Approximately 450,000 Americans are treated for burns each year. They can cost your company money in damaged property, workers compensation rates, and lost productivity. Failure to monitor unsafe conditions leaves you and your employees at risk. Here are ways to avoid burns at your business.
Some industrial chemicals such as solvents or acids are highly caustic and can burn exposed skin on contact. They may also overheat if improperly mixed or stored. Chemicals known to be combustible are of particular concern. Your employees should follow manufacturer guidelines for safe use, including personal protection equipment. All chemicals should be stored in fire-proof metal lockers away from harsh sunlight or flammable materials.
Most workplaces now discourage smoking on the job, or at least smoking indoors. A carelessly discarded cigarette butt can lead to fires and burns. If you designate an approved smoking area for employees, make sure it, and any smoking, is well clear of walkways, buildings, dumpsters, or exterior structures or storage. Flammable materials like napkins or cardboard should be cleaned up regularly. Always ensure that metal ashtrays and trash receptacles are provided.
Burns usually involve electrical equipment. Dust or cobwebs can build up and trap airborne particles and moisture around crucial electrical junctions. Shorts and corroded wires can lead to overheating that may not be detectable within metal or plastic panels until someone makes physical contact with the equipment. Hands, faces, and other body parts can be quickly burned or blistered. You should ensure that all machinery and electrical connections are periodically cleaned and inspected, and make sure you use materials like high temperature nylon on your fixtures in order to avoid problems.
Burn Safety Policies
Machinery, including personal heaters, can be left on too long and tend to overheat. Common but flammable liquids like paint thinner or aerosol spray cans may be left near potential heat sources. Trash, clutter, stacks of paper, or cardboard boxes can be left too close to electrical heaters or hot light bulbs, or block cooling vents. Be sure to educate your employees on burn prevention and treatment, and ensure that policies are followed.
Workplace gadgets can cause accidents. Whether it’s a power drill, extension cord, or coffee maker, it can pose a hazard of electrical or thermal burns if misused. Appliances can become ignition sources if cords are left close to heat sources. Ordinary wear and tear can lead to torn insulation or loose connections. All of your tools and small appliances should be unplugged and stored safely when not in use.
Burns can be very painful and lead to permanent scarring. Most burns are avoidable through common sense and sound fire safety practices. By providing employee training, fire extinguishers, and first aid stations, you can reduce the risks at your company.