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Eliminate burns in the workplace

Photo shows a chef in a hot kitchenBurns are often overlooked as a workplace-related injury, but occur by the thousands each year and in several occupational fields. While burn injuries are less common than slip and fall injuries or sprains and strains, according to a study conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 5,000 burn injuries occur each year in the U.S. and are a direct result of work-related fires and explosions.

While a majority of work-related burn injuries are classified as thermal, chemical, or electrical and often occur in an industrial setting, work-related burns frequently occur in foodservice settings like restaurants. Whether you manage a fast paced kitchen staff or supervise highly trained professionals who handle dangerous chemicals, it’s vital to have a burn prevention plan implemented in your workplace.

Preventing Burns in the Workplace

The easiest way to prevent a burn is to use extreme caution in your profession, but even the most careful of employees are at risk of suffering from a burn injury. Machines can malfunction, chemicals can spill, and hot oil or water can boil over. Simply telling your employees to be careful is not enough. They must be trained on how to identify types of burns, how to treat such burns, and other Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in the workplace regarding injuries

  • Identify the Burn: Everyone in the workplace should be able to identify the type of burn injury in order to treat it properly and quickly. For example, a thermal burn must be treated differently than an electrical burn.
  • Read Labels: Burn prevention can occur by simply reading labels. Chemicals, for example, should always be stored properly and always keep open flame, heat, and sparks from combustible materials. Additionally, make sure equipment is working properly and consult a user’s manual when necessary.
  • Protective Gear: Wearing burn-proof protective gear is just as important as reading labels and inspecting equipment. Depending on your occupation, protective gear may include flame retardant clothing, aprons, or oven mitts. Like all protective gear, it should fit properly and be in good working condition.

First Aid

To keep your employees as safe as possible in the event of a burn injury, OSHA recommends that a burn first aid kit is present in the workplace. Remember, it’s important to be able to identify the type of burn as each burn should be treated differently. Many workplaces have several individuals who are trained and certified in First Aid. If this is the case in your workplace, a burn may be treated on location. Burn kits should include the following (but are not limited to): gloves, sterile dressing, and burn gel.

Work stations should also be supplied with fire extinguishers. If a burn injury occurs in your workplace and the injury seems more severe than a simple “fix” from the kit, never hesitate to call for professional emergency care.

By educating yourself and your employees on burns and burn prevention, the potential for a work-related burn injury can be significantly reduced.

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