WH&S – Burns

Workplace burns can be prevented and the likelihood of serious injury can be reduced by diligently following workplace safety measures and by educating workers on workplace burn hazards. The prevention of workplace burns is an employer’s duty, but everyone within the workplace must take extreme care completing any tasks where there is a risk of being burnt or scalded.

Causes of burn injuries include:

  • Hot fluids such as foodstuff, oils and water;
  • Fire and highly flammable materials;
  • Contact with hot objects or machinery;
  • Electrical current;
  • Explosions; and
  • Chemicals such as caustic acids, alkalis and hydrocarbons.

The diversity of causes and differences in severity mean that there are a number of different treatments for burn injuries. These include cooling the burnt area with cold water, removing blisters and cleaning the burnt area, pain relief, application of specialised dressings and, for more severe cases, immediate emergency attention.

Types of burns include:

  • Thermal burns – caused by flame, steam, hot liquid or contact with a hot surface;
  • Electrical burns – caused by currents of electricity;
  • Chemical burns – caused by hazardous materials.

Note: If your eyes are involved in a chemical burn or welding flash, flush the eyes immediately. Remove contact lenses (if being worn) while the eyes are being flushed and hold the eyelids open.

In our next edition, we will cover another type of common burn – sunburn.

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