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Workplace Burns – First Aid

- February 26, 2018 by Leslie Stoll, CSP, ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

In my last blog, Workplace Burns – Recognition and Prevention, I discussed how to recognize and reduce hazards of burns. In this blog, I’ll discuss first aid response for heat burns, chemical burns and electrical burns.

Heat Burns

First degree burns from heat are usually just a minor nuisance, but employees should still be required to report them to their supervisor so the burn can be monitored for signs of infection. For more significant heat burns, prompt medical attention is important to reduce severity. Supervisors should be trained in basic first aid and burn response. A great resource is for a training meeting can be found on the Center for Disease Control’s website. First degree burns can usually be treated without medical attention but if first-degree burns occur over a large area of the body, then seeking additional medical treatment is advised. Outside medical attention for second and third-degree heat burns is always recommended. In severe cases, 911 should be contacted.

Chemical Burns

The best response to a chemical burn depends on the chemical, so having up to date safety data sheet readily available is key. Prevention is key to chemical burns and employees must be trained in the hazards of all chemicals they have exposure to. Unlike fire safety, we aren’t taught the dangers of workplace chemicals in preschool, so any safety knowledge on chemicals needs to be specifically addressed upon hire and refreshed annually. Supervisors should be trained not to come into contact the chemical when responding to an employee with a chemical burn as they could be burned by the chemical also.

Electrical Burn

Responding to a person with an electrical burn must be done with extreme caution. If the injured employee is still in contact with the electrical producing source, the responder could receive a shock when they touch the person. CPR may need to be performed as well. If your facility is located in a remote area, where 911 responses take more than 3-4 minutes, employees should be trained formally to respond to all types of potential burns and to perform CPR. The Red Cross and National Safety Council both offer workplace first aid and CPR classes. Many local companies also provide this service.

Being prepared to respond appropriately to a burn can make the difference in the outcome of the injury. Check your training records today to see when you last conduct burn safety training.