Burns are not the most common occupational injury on worksites, that title is reserved for sprains and strains, but they are still a common occupational hazard for many employees. Often jobs can bring employees into contact with hot surfaces, flammable liquids, torches, welding equipment, portable heaters, chemicals, electricity as well as over exposure to the sun and wind all of which can cause burns. Burns require prompt action and often professional medical evaluation as well.
There are four main types of burns to be aware of on the job.
Chemical Burns are caused by exposure to a chemical or its fumes.
Electrical Burns are caused by contact with electricity or lightning.
Thermal Burns are the most common type of burn and are caused by contact with flame, heat or scalding liquids.
Radiation Burns are those that cause damage to the skin or body due to exposure to radiant energy.
All burns are painful and the danger of infection must always be addressed.
Burns are classified by degrees to denote how serious the injury is. The classifications are:
- First degree burns affect the outer layer of skin causing it to be red and sore.
- Second degree burns affect the entire outer layer of skin and sometimes may penetrate deeper forming skin blisters.
- Third degree burns penetrate both layers of skin and are very serious.
Here are a few tips for Preventing Burns on the Job:
- Keep sparks and open flames away from combustible and flammable materials
- Practice good housekeeping by disposing of scrap materials promptly and properly.
- Always keep chemicals in their original containers with labels, and use chemicals safely, check the MSDS and use caution when pouring hot liquids - even that morning cup of coffee.
- Observe all electrical codes - lock-out/tag-out energy sources before working on machinery or equipment. Cover live electrical panels and post warning signs.
Wear the right personal protective equipment for the job.