Burns can be one of the most serious and painful injuries that one can sustain. Not only can they leave someone without the use of specific body parts, left with scars, and with other substantial kinds of damage, they can often prevent someone from performing the job that the were hired to do, sometimes even permanently.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, over 5,000 burn injuries happen from work related fires and explosions each year. While these injuries can range from small mishaps to severe incidents, they can all result in pain, suffering, and substantial time off of work, making prevention key.
Although some burns are simply fluke accidents, often, there are specific measures that could have been taken to help avoid these incidents. In fact, there are a number of ways you can take precautions in the workplace to protect yourself, and your coworkers, from potential burn injuries.
— Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
Regardless of where you work, it’s important to ensure you know what’s going on around you at all times. Especially if your workplace is a higher risk, you should be aware of all safety signs and symbols that are posted to ensure you understand any potential risks. Always keep an eye on activities happening around you, including with other team members. Likewise, monitor all of your efforts closely (especially any risky tasks involving flames or electricity). This will help to ensure your safety, and the safety of others.
— Wear Appropriate Clothing & Safety Gear
Although this is less of a concern when it comes to some jobs (such as office works), wearing the correct clothing and following safety guidelines can be incredibly important for others. For example, for workers in warehouses, labs, or industries utilizing dangerous chemicals, ensuring you’re wearing the right kind of gear to protect yourself is a must.
Where recommended, ensure that you’re wearing anti-flammable material to keep any clothings from accidentally being caught on fire. Utilize long sleeved shirts and close-toed shoes where appropriate, to keep yourself from suffering burns or any other type of preventable injury. Also, be sure to utilize additional safety measures, like goggles and gloves, when in situations where this additional protective equipment can prevent accidents.
— Be Mindful Around Electricity
Regardless of the type of work environment you’re in, it’s extremely important to be aware of all potential sources of shock and electricity. While this can simply take the form of plugs throughout your work area, for other jobs, this can mean being in-the-know when it comes to high voltage sources. Understand all of the safety rules your workplace has around working with electricity in general, and obtain proper certifications and training when necessary.
— Store & Handle Chemicals with Care
When it comes to working with chemicals, any mishandling could mean serious burns, injuries, or worse. With that in mind, it’s imperative that everyone involved with their use and storage is well aware of the proper procedures for each chemical, and understands how to properly read each label. When chemicals are located in a particular place, areas should be clearly marked and everyone should be aware when and where they’re in use.
What’s more, if something does occur, it’s important to have proper wash stations in place, and to know where to find them in case of an emergency.
— Be Aware of Potentially Dangerous Heat Sources
For many, working with fire, machinery that operates at high temperatures, and flammable items may just be another day on the job. However, it’s crucial that all workers are continually aware of the risks involved, and that no one becomes careless over time. After all, this is when many accidents occur.
If you’re ever unsure about whether or not something could burn you or if you need to practice specific procedures around them, always err on the side of caution. Just as importantly, if you are aware of specific risks around you, such as open flames, be extremely cautious about their use and around their specific locations.
While it may seem like common sense to be careful around potential burn sources, it’s not rare for workers to just see these risks as “part of the job.” This can cause people to become lax, and not look out for potential dangers to the degree they did before. However, with consistent education and awareness, workers can keep themselves, and their colleagues, as safe as possible while on-the-job.