Individuals in jobs requiring them to work with or around fire are exposed to one of the most extreme hazards known to man. Unfortunately, fire damage accounts for significant loss of life, health, and property daily. When employees are the victims of a fire, disfigurement or death, long recovery periods, painful and multiple surgeries are certain to follow. Approximately 300,000 Americans are injured by fire annually. Employees who are exposed to fire hazards must be properly trained and must have access to the best safety clothing available.
As you may know, different fibers burn differently. Generally, cotton ignites and burns easily. Polyester and nylon are slower to ignite, but will eventually burn with a flame. The melting residue from polyester and nylon gets extremely hot and can cause deep and severe burns. Wool and silk will shrink from flames and are difficult to ignite; however, they burn easily. Blended fabrics, like cotton and polyester, are oftentimes more dangerous than either individual fiber.
Our firm currently represents a client who sustained severe burns when his welding torch ignited his “flame retardant” clothing. His clothing was provided by his employer and the manufacturer sells this clothing specifically to protect individuals working in this industry. The manufacturer advertised that its clothing is the leading flame retardant all-cotton material that will temporarily resist the spread of flames. Flame retardant fabrics are chemically treated to make them more resistant to fire or flames or the fabric is inherently flame resistant. The flame retardant protective clothing provided to our client burned as quickly and as much as his non-flame retardant personal clothing. The failure of the flame retardant clothing to prevent and/or slow the spread of fire caused our client to sustain severe burns to 90% of his back. He has and will endure surgeries and skin grafts for the foreseeable future. His life is forever changed.
The prosecution of this case will include testing to compare the flame resistant properties of the clothing provided to our client to the flame resistant properties of other safety clothing and non-flame resistant clothing. Based on the circumstances surrounding our client’s injury, it is our belief that the manufacturer exaggerated the ability of its clothes to resist fire. If proven, it will be our hope and desire that the manufacturer improve its product or properly warn the users of its products. Our client agrees that although he cannot change what happed to him, he can influence change to prevent similar injuries to others.
If you need more information on this subject contact Kendall Dunson, who handles product liability cases for our firm, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Kendall.Dunson@beasleyallen.com.
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