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Worker suffers steam burns during project without permit

| Apr 9, 2020 | Workers' Compensation |

Sometimes, work that needs to be performed needs to have a permit. This permit helps guarantee that everyone involved in a project knows the rules and regulations that they have to follow to be safe. When an employer fails to get a permit, it could mean that their employees are more likely to end up with injuries.

Three different employers have been cited for safety hazards after a worker was burned in Illinois. According to a report from April 8, three companies, Hill Mechanical Corp., National Heat & Power Corp., and Northwestern University, are all facing fines for exposing workers to underground steam vaults that normally require permits.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that the companies could face up to $235,962 in fines collectively due to an employee suffering from burns caused by steam. The steam was released while they worked in a steam vault.

Neither Northwestern University or Hill Mechanical Corp. had implemented the permits needed for the confined spaces, OSHA discovered.

Steam burns can be extremely painful and dangerous. These burns make up around 33% to 50% of all American hospitalizations for burns in the United States. With hot steam, people can suffer burns at temperatures as low as 133 degrees Fahrenheit. At 156 degrees, it takes just one second to cause a third-degree burn. At 133 degrees, it takes 15 seconds.

Workers who are going to be exposed to steam or hot spaces need to know how to avoid these burns and what to do if they are burned. If they suffer an injury, they should be in a position to file for workers’ compensation.

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