National Burn Awareness Week

Topics: Loss Control

Summary: The American Burn Association has once again designated the first week of February National Burn Awareness Week. Learn more about this year’s theme – Preventing Flammable Liquid Burn Injuries in the Workplace – and get valuable tips on burn prevention and fire safety.

Burn Awareness Week: Preventing Fires and Avoiding Burns at Work

Workplace burn injuries are all too common. They can be severe, and the effects can be debilitating. In the worst cases, burns or scalds can cause lasting injuries and devastating pain that can continue for months or years.

Fortunately, with heightened awareness and proper safety procedures, most incidents that cause burns are preventable. To that end, The American Burn Association (ABA) instituted National Burn Awareness Week. This year (2024), National Burn Awareness Week happens between February 4th through 10th. The goal is to enhance awareness, provide education, and impart valuable information that will help Americans prevent burns at work and at home. In addition, the ABA will be sharing news about medical advancements in the treatment and recovery process of burn victims.

What is the Theme for National Burn Awareness Week 2024?

Every year, the ABA focuses on one major theme for National Burn Awareness Week. This year’s theme is “Preventing Flammable Liquid Burn Injuries,” with a special emphasis on staying safe in the workplace.

Flammable liquids at industrial (or other) worksites can include petroleum based fluids such as kerosene or fuel oil, solvents like methanol or ethyl acetate, or glues such as contact cement, cyanoacrylate (the main ingredient in ‘superglue’), and many others. Depending on the severity and length of exposure, flammable liquid burns can cause injuries from redness, swelling and pain up to severe maladies like deep (third degree) burns and extreme tissue damage and scarring.

Here are a few tips for avoiding these devastating workplace injuries:
  • Pay attention at training and safety briefings
  • Use the personal protective equipment (PPE) that's provided for you
  • Don't smoke except in designated, well-ventilated areas
  • Use proper labeling and read labels and instructions
  • Never store flammable liquids in unapproved, inappropriate containers
  • Store flammables properly
  • Report dangerous situations to management

Common Types of Workplace Burns

burn awareness week

Certain industries have more burn risks than others do, such as restaurants, auto mechanics, construction and manufacturing. In fact, the Burn Foundation found that the restaurant and food service industry reports around 12,000 burns every year, the highest number of burns in any employment sector.

Addtionally, the AmTrust 2022 Restaurant Risk Report found that burns continue to be among the most common injuries in commercial kitchens. Some of the types of burns workers can face include:
  • Electrical burns: Electrical fires and burns can occur from both direct and non-direct contact with an electrical source. One example of direct contact is “arcing.” Arcing occurs when a discharge of an electrical current jumps a gap in an exposed circuit, allowing the current to travel through the body and meet resistance in the tissue, resulting in a burn.
  • Chemical burns: Exposure to corrosive or caustic materials, strong acids, or industrial cleaners can cause chemical burns in the skin or eyes. Chemical fumes can also result in injuries to the respiratory system.
  • Thermal/contact burns: Hot objects like burners, open flames, explosions or heated liquids can cause thermal or contact burns.

Preventing Fires and Burns in the Workplace

The key method of reducing burns in the workplace is to ensure all employees are well trained in safety procedures at the start of their employment, and then provide ongoing training throughout the year. Here are a few other suggestions to help prevent burns in the workplace:

Provide the proper personal protective equipment (PPE)

Employees should be given PPE such as heat resistant gloves or rubber gloves for electrical work or for auto mechanics working with hot engines. As restaurant workers are at a higher risk for burns in the workplace, they should use PPE like splatter shields and gauntlets around hot fryers, and lift hot pans using only protective gloves or oven mitts.

Check electrical cords, outlets and equipment regularly

Keep in mind that electrical fires can start in commercial buildings in a variety of ways, from faulty wiring and damaged equipment to unattended space heaters. Make sure electrical systems are inspected often by a professional, licensed electrician and educate employees about the causes of electrical fires and burns.

Be careful with hot liquids

When moving containers of hot liquids, let the contents cool first whenever possible. Keep pot handles turned inward on stoves, and open pot lids carefully to be mindful of hot vapors escaping. Place items into hot water or oil slowly to avoid splashing.

Practice good housekeeping

Oily, dirty or solvent-soaked rags and other types of waste lying around can easily start fires. Keep areas clean, placing soiled rags in approved and covered metal containers and placing all trash in proper receptacles.

Store chemicals properly

Always read labels and safety data sheets for chemical containers as well as review chemical content and other pertinent information before storing them. Be sure chemicals are handled and stored according to their particular specifications and instructions.

Be mindful around hot surfaces, objects and open flames

Employees should understand how to prevent burns and scalds from hot beverages, food, steam, tap water and even warming trays. Keep combustible and flammable materials away from sparks or open flames, and be aware of all potentially hot surfaces, especially cooking equipment.

Loss Control Services from AmTrust Financial

Controlling costs through an effective risk management program is essential in today’s competitive market. AmTrust Financial’s Loss Control department can identify the specific hazards facing your organization and offer solutions that best meet your needs. Find helpful workplace safety resources, including free streaming videos, on our website. For more information, please contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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