February 13, 2018

Safety tips to reduce the risk of workplace burns

Grease splatters. Chemical spills. Car fires. A welding project gone terribly wrong.

Burns resulting from accidents such as these led Pinnacol employers to file more than 1,700 claims during 2016-17. This serious medical problem can have a serious price tag for your business — those two years alone cost Pinnacol employers $4.8 million in claims costs.

Are your workers vulnerable to workplace burns? Consider the following:

  • Burns occur across a range of industries. More than half of the burn claims among Pinnacol employers during that two-year span were sparked by:
  • Food preparation, particularly ovens, contact with steam, hot water, and grease.
  • Exposure to chemicals via landscaping and housekeeping operations.
  • Manufacturing work involving grinding and welding operations.
  • Overall, Pinnacol policyholders report that hazards in fast-food businesses, restaurants, and school districts account for the most burn injuries. You may be surprised at how many industries include food services — you also find it in government institutions, hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.
  • Slightly more than 1,000 businesses filed at least one burn claim in 2016-17 — and a quarter of these businesses filed multiple claims.

Most burns suffered in the workplace are not life-threatening, but they are extremely painful and can cause worrisome side effects. However, those that suffer second- and third-degree burns may go into shock, develop an infection or experience breathing problems.

How can you reduce your employees’ risk of being burned on the job?

We have a few easy-to-implement tips to help them stay safe.

  1. Conduct a quick assessment of the job tasks at hand to determine employee exposure to hazards. An important part of the assessment involves identifying and providing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Examples of PPE include elbow-length mitts to protect from food prep burns and grease splatters, chemical-resistant gloves and face shields to prevent burns from chemical spills, and fire-retardant clothing and a face shield to protect from welding operations and oil and gas activities.
  2. Studies of workplace burn injuries have found workers’ inexperience, inadequate on-the-job training, employee error and company-wide failure to follow and enforce safety guidelines contribute to a higher incidence of burns. Education clearly goes a long way toward prevention. Our Food Service Safety page offers details on how to decrease employees’ chances of being burned, and Module 1 outlines important information to relay to your kitchen and cooking staff. Our Employer’s Food Service Guidelines highlight areas where you may need to offer additional training to avoid burns, such as oil handling and fire extinguisher operation.
  3. Finally, no matter what industry you work in, comply with fire regulations. Provide proper fire extinguishers for different types of fire; train employees so they know when and how to use various extinguishers, and develop, implement and practice an emergency evacuation plan. Most importantly, know when to call 911.

Questions? Contact safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or call 303.361.4700.