National Burn Awareness Week


Summary: National Burn Awareness Week, created by the American Burn Association, is held annually during the first full week of February. Find out what the 2022 theme is, learn the common types of workplace burns, and discover what employers can do to help prevent them.

Burns are one of the most common injury types in the workplace. After an employee suffers a burn or scald, he or she could face not only debilitating pain and disfigurement, but also a recovery period that could take years.

Created by the American Burn Association (ABA), National Burn Awareness Week takes place every year during the first full week of February. Its mission is to educate the public about the frequency and causes of burn injuries in the country. Their goal is also to spread information about how to prevent burns in both the home and the workplace, as well as to share the advances in burn care and treatments.

The theme for National Burn Awareness Week 2022 is Burning Issues in the Kitchen. According to the ABA, 47% of all home fires are caused by cooking. In fact, cooking is the number one cause of home fires. Preventing fires and burn injuries should be top of mind for everyone, whether you're cooking a gourmet meal or simply popping some bread in the toaster. 

A few tips for preventing kitchen fires include: 

  • Wipe down the stove, oven and exhaust fan after cooking to help prevent grease buildup
  • Use a lid to help prevent grease splatter when frying
  • Never leave the kitchen unattended when food is cooking on the stove
  • Always make sure all burners and appliances are off when finished cooking

Common Types of Workplace Burns

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.

Some of the most common 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.

Courtesy of AmTrust Financial

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