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Treatment for Workplace Burns

Feb 9, 2016

By: Chelsea Haley, DKI Ventures, LLC

As we learned last week, workplace burns injure roughly 5,000 Americans each year, so it’s important to take the proper precautions to prevent these types of calamities. However, accidents happen; it’s essential to know how to treat a burn, should something occur. Workplace burns must be treated immediately, but the type of burn will determine the proper course of action.

Thermal burns

This type of burn most commonly affects the skin, resulting from too much exposure to the sun’s rays, scalding hot liquids (grease or boiling water) or steam, open flames, hot objects or explosions.

Electrical burns

These occur when an electrical current travels directly through the body, such as from touching a functioning electrical socket or wire, falling into electrified water, or being struck by lightning. Take immediate action; shut off any power if applicable, and call for medical help. Do not touch or move the person in case he is still in contact with the electrical current.

Chemical burns

This is often a more severe type of burn, when skin or eyes come into contact with acids or corrosive materials that eat away at the skin tissue. These can be caused by industrial cleaners or other chemicals used in laboratory and manufacturing workplaces. The symptoms may include itching, skin irritation, blistering, pain, numbness, difficulty breathing and blurred vision. Take action immediately. Remove contaminated clothing or accessories with your gloves, and seek medical attention. Rinse the affected area with cold water to remove any excess chemical, then cover with a dry, sterile gauze or bandage.

First or Second Degree Burns

These burns are the least severe, affecting only the first one or two layers of skin, but can still be very painful. Apply cold water for several minutes to cool the burn and relieve the pain. Do not use ice, ointments, or lotions as these can cause further damage. Then, cover the burn with a clean, dry gauze or bandage to prevent infection. See a doctor if you see signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, oozing or fever, lightheadedness.

Third Degree Burns

These are severe and may need emergency attention. Seek medical help and apply loose dry, sterile gauze or nonstick bandage. Don’t soak in water, or use ointments, ice or butter. Also, be aware the person may go into shock; lay them flat with their feet elevated.