What to Do in Case of a Burn Emergency at Work

burn emergency

Workplace safety is paramount for employees and employers alike, particularly in workplaces that handle dangerous materials and substances. Burns are a common workplace injury, with over 5,000 occurring every year. This work-related injury is common in various industries, including restaurants, offices, construction, chemical sites, and retail spaces. No matter the industry, understanding how to respond swiftly and effectively to a burn emergency can make a critical difference in minimizing injuries and preventing long-term consequences. This article provides a framework for what to do in a burn emergency at work. From understanding the types and severities of burns to creating a response plan, we will discuss the critical aspects of workplace burn safety. Whether you’re an employee or an employer, understanding burn safety is crucial for fostering a safe and healthy workplace.

Types of Burns 

Burns are injuries on the skin caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, or radiation. These injuries can cause the skin to turn red, bubble, and peel, depending on the severity of the burn. There are three types of burns: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree.

First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns are the least threatening type of burn, as they only affect the outermost layer of skin. This kind of burn often results in redness, swelling, and pain but can typically be treated with first aid at home.

Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns affect both the outermost layer of skin and the layer right beneath it. This kind of burn is more severe, characterized by blistering, severe redness, and more pain. Some second-degree burns can be treated at home with first-aid. However, depending on the size and location of the burn, it may require medical attention.

Third-Degree Burns

Finally, the most severe type of burn is a third-degree burn. This kind of burn affects all layers of the skin and the tissues underneath. This kind of burn requires immediate medical attention and can require extensive treatment, like skin grafts.

All types of burns should be promptly treated. Forgoing professional or home treatment can result in infection, scarring, and respiratory problems. Understanding the nuances of burn types and their potential complications displays the importance of burn safety in the workplace.

Prevention Measures

The best way to manage work-related burns is prevention. All employees should regularly partake in training sessions on fire safety, proper use of equipment, and emergency response protocols. This ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding workplace safety. Employers can also conduct fire drills and emergency exercises to familiarize employees with the proper procedures for a burn emergency. This enhances the preparedness of employees, ensuring each staff member understands their responsibilities in case of a burn. These training exercises contribute to creating a burn prevention culture in the workplace. Employers can significantly reduce the likelihood of burn emergencies at work by fostering awareness about the prevalence of burns and instructing employees on how to prevent them.

Responding to a Burn Emergency at Work

Prevention is the key to reducing the likelihood of burn injuries at work, but some burns will still occur. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to create a safe and healthy working environment for employees, and part of this requirement includes having clear protocols in place in case of an accident or injury. Employers can use the following guide to develop a burn emergency protocol for their workplace.

Immediate Response

A quick response to a burn emergency is crucial to minimize injury. A burn emergency plan should start with assessing the scene at hand. Employees should look for potential dangers, like ongoing fires, hazardous materials, or open electrical sources. This will help them identify the source of the burn and keep other employees safe. Proper personal protective equipment, like gloves or face shields, should be stored in an accessible location in the workplace in case of smoke, fumes, or chemicals. To quickly respond to a burn emergency, the emergency protocol should include designated roles for each office member, such as calling emergency services or leading the other employees to safety.

When a burn does occur at work, the injured employee should receive prompt medical attention.

Notifying Authorities

Several authorities need to be notified in the event of a burn emergency at work. An effective burn emergency protocol should provide employees with the proper contact order. Here are some of the critical authorities that may need to be notified:

  • Emergency Services

Firefighters, EMTs, and police officers can help the injured employee and ensure that the workplace is safe for the rest of the office to return to work.

  • Supervisors and Managers

Prompt notification of a burn emergency to managers is crucial for risk management, workers’ compensation, and regulatory compliance.

  • Regulatory Entities

Safety regulators, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, require prompt notification of all accidents and injuries in the workplace.

Post-Emergency Care

After the immediate response to a burn emergency, attention turns to post-emergency care for the affected individual and the workplace. This includes ensuring the injured employee receives appropriate medical care and workers’ compensation. Additionally, employers must take the time to identify the root cause of the injury. Employers can meet with employees and occupational health specialists to determine what changes, if any, need to be made to the preventative procedures in the workplace.

By quickly responding to the injury, contacting the appropriate authorities, and taking care of the injured employee and the workplace following the injury, organizations can prepare for burn emergencies at work.

Legal and Reporting Obligations

Work-related burn emergencies typically trigger legal and regulatory responsibilities for employers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires comprehensive record-keeping for burn injuries that cause blistering. These injuries must also be promptly reported to OSHA and other safety agencies. 

Burn injuries may also trigger workers’ compensation. Employers must quickly report the burn incident to the workers’ compensation insurer to initiate the claims process and ensure that the injured employee is cared for financially. Employers must meticulously document the injury, accident, and post-burn actions. This documentation will be crucial for the various reports employers must submit.

By understanding and fulfilling these legal and regulatory obligations, organizations can effectively navigate the aftermath of a burn emergency with transparency and compliance, ensuring that the injured employee is taken care of and that the workplace is restored to safety.

How Can We Help?

Work Health Solutions offers comprehensive healthcare solutions for your medical needs. Our qualified team treats patients and employers alike and always provides top-quality service. We back our quality service with years of experience. We have worked with academic and research institutions, corporate healthcare, Fortune 25 companies, small governments, and local businesses. Reach out today with any questions about how we can assist you!

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