National Burn Awareness Week


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 2021 is Electrical Safety from Amps to Zaps. The ABA is offering a variety of tips and facts from the letters A to Z about electrical safety for both residences and businesses, such as:

  • C is for Check Cords: Always check cords before use for cracks or frayed sockets, loose or bare wire or loose connections.
  • I is for Indicates: A flickering light usually indicates the fixture/circuit has loose wires or the bulb has come loose. Try tightening the bulb. If the flickering continues, consult an electrician.
  • P is for Pull: Never pull an item from an electrical outlet by the cord, instead pull from the base.
  • Z is for Zapped: Make sure electrical equipment is properly grounded so you don't get zapped by electricity.

And many more great tips to keep your business and home safe from a fire or burn caused by electricity.

Common Types of Workplace Burns

electrical safety burn awareness week

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 PolicyWire By AmTrust

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