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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
FEB 06, 2018
National Burn Awareness Week: Burn Prevention Tips
National Burn Awareness Week is February 4-10 this year. Although burn prevention isn’t always top-of-mind at work, we know that employee safety is of upmost concern for any employer.
According to the American Burn Association, there are about 486,000 burn-related injuries requiring medical treatment each year – eight percent of which take place at work. That translates to approximately 38,880 workers who are burned on the job each year. Many of these injuries could be prevented with proper training and awareness. Below is an overview of burn types as well as some helpful tips to avoid burns in the workplace.
Types of Burns
A proactive approach to preventing burns at work is to be aware of the hazards that can cause them. Only then can you take the steps needed to provide employee training, policies and procedures. While the most common workplace burns are thermal and chemical, burns can also be electrical, radiological and even cold-related. Becoming familiar with the various types and hazards can help keep your employees safe.
are often caused by extremely hot surfaces or fires. Guards, personal protective equipment (PPE) and relevant signage can all be used to prevent these types of burns. Also, develop a fire action plan and have frequently-inspected fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems in place to prevent workplace burns due to fire.
can happen when improper exposure to acids and alkalis damages skin and deep tissue. Unless the chemical becomes neutralized and removed from the body, the damage from caustic substances will worsen. Make sure your workers observe any product warning labels and adhere to manufacturer recommendations. PPE may also be required with certain chemicals.
occur when current travels through the body and meets resistance in tissue. High-voltage areas and machinery should be clearly marked to avoid any burns from electrical sources. Workers should identify live wires, avoid contact with water when working with electricity and wear the necessary PPE.
come from contact with an extremely hot liquid. While most common in the restaurant/food industry, they can occur where hot water or other liquids are involved. Eyes and skin can both be damaged by scalding. Employee training and PPE can help prevent these types of burns.
are caused by extremely low temperatures and can damage the skin similar to heat. Exposure to refrigeration units and extremely cooled fluids, such as liquid air/nitrogen, can instantly freeze any unprotected body parts. Affected workers will need immediate medical attention.
can include damage from radiant light energy like ultraviolet light, microwaves, x-rays and ionizing nuclear radiation. Oftentimes, the only way to stop this type of injury is to decontaminate the affected area.
Sun exposure burns
could be considered thermal burns, but they need their own special consideration. If your workers are exposed to sun on the jobsite, they need to be well-versed in sun safety practices and should reduce the hours they spend in direct sunlight. To prevent sun exposure burns, employees need to seek shade when possible and wear sun-protective work clothing, including hats and sunscreen.
are abrasions or heat burns from skin coming in contact with any hard surface such as roads (“road rash”), carpets, fast-moving machine belts, etc. The best way to prevent friction burns is to properly cover skin with protective gear or clothing.
Euro-Mediterranean Council for Burns and Fire Disasters
We have five straightforward tips to help prevent workplace burns:
Make/enforce the rules
– Be sure employees are aware of safety-related rules and techniques in the workplace.
Proceed with caution
– Caution is key when employees are handling or near hot surfaces or substances. Warning signage can keep workers aware of these potential hazards.
– No matter what precautions are implemented, accidents can still happen. The key is to be prepared for when they do. Workers should be aware of the location of any fire-extinguishing equipment, first aid kits and eyewash stations – just in case.
– The right PPE can make all the difference. This can include wearing the proper gloves, shoes and eye protection.
– Your employees need to be continually aware of their surroundings and their movements, as well as those of their coworkers. A preventative mindset can make the difference between life and death on a jobsite.
While workers should shoulder some of the responsibility, the ultimate onus is on the employer to protect its employees and provide a safe workplace. Training can make workers aware of potential job or equipment hazards and the actions needed to prevent burns. In addition, the correct color codes, signage and labels need to be posted to warn workers of potential hazards – most of which are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Finally, make sure your workers have access to the correct PPE and other safeguards to protect them against workplace burns.
Your Amerisure Loss Control Consultant has many tools and services to help employers prevent burns in the workplace. Call 800-257-1900 or email