By David Perecman
With work-related fires and explosions accounting for more than 5,000 burn injuries each year, it is vital for all workers to be aware of the risks of burn hazards, as well as prevention and treatment throughout the year. The first week of February is designated National Burn Awareness Week (NBAW) [observed by the American Burn Association], a time to raise awareness of the dangers of burn-related injuries and impress the importance of fire safety and prevention.
The key element of a safe workplace for all is the upkeep of fire safety and prevention. Thermal, chemical, and electrical burns are common types of injuries that can occur in the workplace. The theme for NBAW 2020 is “Contact Burns – Hot Surfaces Damage Skin.” Contact burns, as the name implies, are burn injuries that occur when direct contact is made with heating appliances, hot materials or surfaces.
Despite numerous safety measures and guidelines, contact burns are among the most common burn injuries, as hot-surface hazards are abundant throughout the workplace. Contact burns range in severity, but some can cause severe injuries and lead to a victim’s inability to perform their job duties – especially if the burns affect the fingers, hands, feet, eyes, or other parts of the body, which are critical to performing work-related tasks.
How To Prevent Contact Burns
Perhaps the greatest risk of contact burns is that the objects and materials which cause them are commonly used throughout the workplace. From hot plates, tools, engines, and machinery, if you work with any equipment that can get hot, it is important to be aware of the burn hazards that exist and how to take the necessary precautions.
To best prevent contact burns, always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and use any safety materials provided. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and make yourself aware of any warnings and instructions they provide.
Hot surfaces do not only pose dangers to the common injury areas of hands or arms; feet can suffer burn injuries if they are exposed to hot surfaces without the necessary protective gear as well. If you are working outdoors in high temperatures, be sure to wear protective footwear on days when pavement or asphalt can be hot or at the beach if you will be walking on sand. Asphalt can reach temperatures over 125˚F when outside temperatures are just 77˚F. This can pose a serious health risk if safety precautions are not followed.
Similarly, if you work outdoors in cold temperatures, make sure to consider the potential for frostbite. While most people often forget about the dangers of cold weather hazards, it is important to remember that frostbite is also treated in burn centers as the injury occurs similarly to contact burns from exposure to extreme temperatures. To prevent frostbite when working in the cold for extended intervals, take regular breaks indoors to warm up, monitor weather forecasts for unexpected temperature changes, and wear ample layers of clothing and cover exposed skin with scarfs, gloves and hats. Frostbite can affect any part of the body. If you get frostbite, seek medical treatment in a verified burn center as soon as possible.
Safety First At All Times
While the severity of burn injuries ranges from fatal to moderate to mild, all burns have the potential to impair an individual’s livelihood and their ability to perform work duties, causing considerable damages. However, these injuries are often preventable with proper preparation and precautions. For this reason, employers must set the standard of safety and take measures to protect staff from burn-related injuries.
Perecman, Founder and Lead Trial Attorney at The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., is a distinguished New York attorney who concentrates his practice in all aspects of personal injury law, including construction accidents, premises liability, automobile accidents, medical malpractice, as well as employment discrimination, false arrest, and civil rights matters. The Perecman Firm is a full-service personal injury law firm with offices in New York, NY and Jericho, NY.
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