Monthly Safety Blast
Produced by the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education
Burn Injury Awareness
Explosion & burn injuries occur every day on farms, during all phases and types of work. Along with equipment injury, they are among the most common causes of injuries and death in the agricultural industry. The National Institute of Occupational Health & Safety (NIOSH) reports that explosions and fires are responsible for 21 and 39% of farmworker accidents, respectively.
Causes of Fires and/or Explosions:
If you are a farm worker, you work with machinery, chemicals, and stored crops, this means you’re always at risk of being burned by explosions and fires on the job.
Explosion & burn injuries have many causes:
- Gas in unventilated grain silos can explode.
- Defective, old or improperly maintained farm machinery can overheat.
- Farm machinery without proper safety features can ignite crops.
- Flammable fuels and lubricants can come into contact with hot machine parts.
- Fires intended to clear land can become out of control.
- Electrical shorts in equipment and facilities can spark a blaze.
- Underground natural gas lines damaged by tillage equipment can burst.
Treatment of Burns:
1. Cool Burn
- Hold burned skin under cool (not cold) running water or immerse in cool water until pain subsides.
- Use compresses if running water isn’t available.
2. Protect Burn
- Cover with sterile, non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth.
- Do not apply butter or ointments, which can cause infection.
3. Treat Pain
- Give over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or naproxen (Aleve).
4. When to See a Doctor
Seek medical help if:
- You see signs of infection, like increased pain, redness, swelling, fever, or oozing.
- The person needs tetanus or booster shot, depending on date of last injection. Tetanus booster should be given every 10 years.
- The burn blister is larger than two inches or oozes.
- Redness and pain last more than a few hours.
- Pain worsens.
5. Follow Up
- The doctor will examine the burn and may prescribe antibiotics and pain medication.
Call 911 if:
- The burn penetrates all layers of the skin.
- The skin is leathery or charred looking, with white, brown, or black patches.
- The hands, feet, face, or genitals are burned.
- The person is an infant or a senior.
While burn injuries are nearly impossible to anticipate, there are many ways you can reduce the risk of these incidents from happening on the job. Use the safety measures listed above to maintain a safe work environment and keep you and your co-workers out of harms way.
Take the Burn Injury Awareness quiz to test your knowledge!
Disclaimer: The facts and information listed above are merely suggestions for your safety, but are in no way a comprehensive and exhaustive list of all actions needed to insure your safety.
Monthly Blast written by our Outreach Health Education Coordinator, Nykole Kafka Vance, MS, CEP, CHES
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