Workplace Risks: Flammable Liquids and Burn Injuries
Fuels, solvents, cleaners, paints, adhesives – it would be hard to find a modern manufacturing facility that doesn’t use flammable liquids as part of its production process. Flammable liquids pose a high risk if handled improperly, and have the potential to cause catastrophic fires or explosions, which can lead to serious burn injuries.
One of the most important things to understand about flammable liquids is that it’s not actually the liquid that ignites – it’s the vapor the liquid gives off that catches fire. Just like water when it evaporates on a warm day, the amount of vapor that a flammable liquid gives off increases as its temperature rises. A liquid’s flashpoint is the temperature at which it releases enough vapor to become ignitable near the surface of the liquid. According to OSHA regulations, a liquid is considered flammable if it has a flashpoint at or below 199.4 degrees Fahrenheit (93 degrees Celsius). There are four categories of flammable liquids, with Category 1 liquids being the most flammable and Category 4 liquids being the least flammable.
Know how to handle flammable liquids in your workplace
Releasing in February 2014, Summit’s new training program, Flammable Liquids: Know Your Risk, focuses on how you and your employees can stay safe and avoid accidents when working with or around flammable liquids. Available in DVD, online, and streaming video, this course covers:
- Flammable Liquids
- Flammable Vapors
- Ignition Sources
- Best Work Practices
To prevent a catastrophic fire from occurring, it’s important to remember two critical requirements when working around flammable liquids: prevent the accumulation of hazardous vapors, and control the sources of ignition. By following these and the other best work practices outlined in your safety training, you can help protect your co-workers and yourself from injury.
Burns can vary in severity and some burns can inflict serious physical damage to the body.
The larger the surface area burned, the greater the disruption of the skin’s ability to properly maintain body temperature. The deeper a burn goes into the skin and underlying tissue, the more likely the risk of infection. Burns involving the face, hands, genitals, and feet can result in the limitation of basic functions, such as movement and sensation.
Breathing air at high temperatures can create burns within the airway and result in serious breathing difficulty.
Minor burns include those that involve the outer layer of the skin and result in redness and pain. These include small burns that extend into the deeper layers of the skin and cause some blistering.
Rapid first aid treatment for these burns can provide immediate comfort and help prevent long-term complications. Cool the burn with cool water as soon as possible. Continue cooling until the pain is relieved. This will reduce pain, swelling, and the depth of injury. Do not apply ice directly to cool a burn.
Leave any blisters intact. Cover the burn with a loose sterile pad. Minor burns usually heal without further treatment.
Deep burns over a large area of the body are the most severe. These burns often result in extensive blistering and destruction of skin tissue.
Make sure the situation is safe for you to help. If someone is on fire, tell the person to STOP, DROP, and ROLL. Try to smother flames with a coat, rug, or blanket, or douse them with water.
Activate EMS immediately. Expose the affected area by cutting or tearing away clothing. If any clothing is stuck to the burn, do not remove it. If present, remove any jewelry near the burned area.
Separate fingers or toes with dry, sterile, non-adhesive dressings. Do not apply butter, ointment, lotion, or antiseptic. Loosely cover the burn area with a dry, clean pad or clean sheet, if the burned area is large.
Give the person nothing to eat or drink. While awaiting EMS, monitor the airway for swelling from inhalation of smoke or hot gases.
If you need assistance in bringing safety or emergency care training to your worksite, give us a call at 800.447.3177.