In 2016 there were 88 fatal injuries caused by fires and explosions in the workplace, in the U.S. This number doesn’t account for the thousands of others who suffered life-altering injuries due to this situation.
In most cases, workplace explosions occur in work environments where there are hazardous substances, such as open flames, gas storage tanks and explosives. These substances are common in workplaces such as mines, oil refineries, construction sites and manufacturing facilities.
Regardless of the environment, if a person ever has an explosion accident injury, they may need to find out about the types of injuries they may suffer.
In most cases, workplace explosions can be put into one of four categories:
In this instance, the categories range from the most severe to the least severe injuries. Prior to being treated, your injuries have to be classified and the extent of the damage has to be determined.
Learn more about the four classifications of explosion related injuries here.
Primary Blast Injuries
A primary blast injury occurs in workplace explosions that inflict pressure on a person’s bodily tissues. In most cases, these types of injuries affect certain areas of the body, such as the ears, lungs and the gastrointestinal tract.
These are the areas that are most susceptible to a primary blast injury because of the presence of air, which is often compressed by the pressure generated during the explosion.
Secondary Blast Injuries
This type of injury occurs when a person is struck by debris or other objects from the explosion. A secondary blast injury can be caused by any type of object, including shrapnel, furniture and equipment. Similar to the primary blast injuries, these occur with the victims who are closest to the actual explosion.
Tertiary and Quaternary Injuries
A tertiary blast injury occurs if a person is lifted off of the ground during an explosion. This can result in a severe injury, as the person’s body is often trust to the ground, or into a nearby object with extreme force.
The quaternary blast injuries are the remainder of injuries that may occur due to a workplace explosion. Some examples of these injuries include the inhalation of smoke or other toxic substances, crush injuries and burns.
Common Causes of Workplace Explosions
There are numerous reasons that workplace explosions may occur. Some of the most common include:
- Issues related to combustible dust, such as wood dust, coal dust, biosolids and metal dust
- Equipment that uses combustion engines, such as compressor, forklift trucks and generators
- Storage tanks that hold flammable gases or liquids
- Static electricity that results in electrostatic discharges
- Hot work activities, such as grinding, welding and hot-cutting
- Mechanical sparks caused by metal striking against concrete or rock or impacts
Evaluating your workplace for these hazards can help you know if an explosion injury may occur.
Treatment for Blast/Explosion Related Injuries
If you have been injured due to an explosion, you need to seek medical attention right away. Having the injuries you have suffered evaluated is essential, as injuries can become worse as time passes.
Once you have sought medical attention, they can evaluate the severity of your burns, and look for additional injuries, such as head trauma, broken bones, lacerations and more.
Keep in mind, if the explosion was the result of employer negligence, having your injuries (even minor ones) documented by a medical professional is paramount. This information can be used if you file a lawsuit and help prove the extent and severity of the injuries you suffered.
It’s best to seek medical attention as soon after the explosion as possible. This will ensure there’s no possibility of someone claiming the injuries were caused by another source. Additionally, information for your case can also be gathered, which may be beneficial in the long term.
Handling Cases of Employer Negligence
There are some situations where workplace explosions are the result of employer negligence. This occurs if the explosion was preventable.
Some of the times this situation may occur is if an employer does not identify hazardous working conditions or if they fail to correct working conditions that are considered hazardous. Any person who is harmed because of employer negligence may be able to recover compensation, but they may have to file a lawsuit against the company or employer who is considered responsible for the workplace explosion.
Understanding the potential injuries that may occur if you are involved in a workplace explosion accident can be beneficial. After all, knowing the risks of the job you do can also help you take steps to ensure you don’t become a victim. If you are a victim of this situation and injury, taking action and filing a lawsuit is often the best course of action you have after being involved in an explosion.