February 4 through 10 was National Burn Awareness Week, during which the American Burn Association encouraged the public to think about burn dangers in the home and workplace. Although more than 96 percent of burn injuries are non-fatal, many victims suffer debilitating medical complications and severe scarring that can affect them physically and emotionally for a lifetime.
In the Workplace
Thousands of workers suffer burn injuries annually in the United States. The three most common types of workplace burn injuries are thermal (heat), electrical, and chemical. Reduce the risk of these injuries by following the tips below:
- If you are working with flammable or combustible materials, keep them away from open flames and sparks.
- Employees working with flammable or combustible materials, or near open flames, should wear flame-resistant clothing.
- Do not touch equipment until you are certain it is not hot.
- If a worker suffers a thermal burn injury, move him or her to a safe place. If clothing is on fire, help the person to stop, drop and roll until the flames are completely extinguished.
- If the burn is mild (first-degree), apply cool water to the injury, elevate the body part, and give the person water to drink.
- If the person has sustained a second-degree burn, do not apply cool water. Simply elevate the body part and give the person water to drink.
- If the burn is more serious (third-degree), do not apply cool water, do apply a sterile, nonstick dressing to the wound, treat the person for shock, and seek medical attention immediately.
- To prevent chemical burns, ensure that chemicals are stored and labeled correctly.
- Wear appropriate safety gear when working with dangerous chemicals.
- Before beginning a job working with chemicals, make sure that you know the location of a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and nearest eye wash station.
- Immediately remove contaminated clothing if you come into contact with dangerous chemicals.
- To avoid electrical burns and electrocutions, utilize proper Lockout / Tagout procedures at all times.
- Overhead power lines should be marked.
- If a worker suffers an electrical burn or injury, turn off the power.
- Do not touch the injured worker until you are sure the power has been turned off.
- Check the worker’s airway and breathing, treat for shock, and seek medical attention immediately.