Nine months after a horrible workplace accident burned 70% of his body, Jeff Culp is still getting skin grafts. But safety gear prevented even more serious damage.
In February, Culp was working at a corn processing plant in Columbus, NE. He was installing a pipe above heated containers of corn syrup.
Suddenly, a container cover blew open, spewing 260-degree corn syrup on him.
The force threw him against a rail on the catwalk he was standing on. It was hard for him to move, as if a heavy weight was holding him down. He had to climb down a ladder to get off the catwalk — something that was very difficult given what had just happened.
Culp suffered burns on 70% of his body.
In the hospital, he was bandaged from head to toe.
Modern medicine saved him. Doctors said, had this incident happened just 20 years ago, he probably would have died.
20 skin grafts later
Culp has had 20 skin grafts since the accident, including ones to his face.
In his case, doctors used pig skin because it contains growth factors that hasten the body’s healing.
As his skin underneath the grafts heals, it rejuvenates and pushes the grafts away, revealing new, healthy skin.
The grafts on Culp’s face hide the pain and damage from the accident.
“There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about it,” he told KETV, “especially getting in the shower and cleaning up.”
It may be a year before Culp can enjoy certain activities again like biking and hunting.
As incredible as this statement might seem, doctors said this could’ve been a lot worse.
Culp was wearing safety gear for his hands and eyes. Those precautions have made a huge difference in his recovery.
Next time employees complain about wearing safety gear that is flame retardant or protects against harsh chemicals, you might want to tell them this story. Better yet, you can show it to them. The television report about his incident, including the scars on his body and all his bandages while he was in the hospital, is available online here.
Do you have an accident story you tell employees to encourage them to always wear their personal protective equipment? Tell us and your peers about it by leaving us a comment below.