According to the American Burn Association, 40,000 people nationwide receive treatment for burn injuries each year, including Ohio. The National Burn Awareness Week from Feb. 3 to Feb. 13 will focus on prevention. Furthermore, they will create awareness of the different types of burn injuries.
The best steps to prevent burn injuries involve assessing potential burn risks before starting a project. Once identified, workers can use personal protective equipment and engineering controls to mitigate fire-related dangers. Preventive steps depend on the type of burn hazard.
Thermal burns are most prevalent and could result from fire, explosions, hot liquids and hot surfaces. Precautions include identifying potential risks and eliminating the heat source. If that is not possible, barriers or guards must prevent workers from making contact with them.
When electrical currents pass through the workers’ bodies, burns will occur where the currents encounter body tissues’ resistance. Electrical burns could be on the outside of the body or internal. Burns on the outside will show the entry and exit points of the current. The following precautions can prevent electrical burns:
- Assess the job location to locate electrical risks, and then stay away from them.
- Avoid using equipment that could make contact with overhead power lines.
- Always inspect power tools for damage or defects in the ground prongs and insulation.
- Discard or repair compromised electrical cords.
- Never use electrical tools in wet or moist environments.
- Use lockout/tagout procedures before doing maintenance or repairs on electrical equipment.
Chemicals containing strong caustic, acid, corrosive or alkaloids can cause severe chemical burns if it comes in contact with a worker’s skin or eyes. Precautions include the following:
- Eliminate dangerous chemicals and replace them with less hazardous substances.
- Block access to processes or areas where hazardous chemical exposure is possible.
- Use eyewash stations or emergency showers immediately after exposure.
Workers in Ohio must report any burn injuries to their employers as soon as possible. That could set the ball rolling to claim workers’ compensation benefits. Along with medical costs, the benefits will include coverage of a portion of lost wages if the injured worker cannot return to work immediately.