Burn Safety in the Workplace


In medical education, many of our trainees are here to experience on the job training in a fast paced and high stress environment. Not only do we have to take on usual HR onboarding roles by providing initial safety training and annual refreshers to keep our team safe, but we also have to train our teams to treat the injuries that are common in the workplace. OSHA provides an overwhelming amount of information and posters for us to use around our workplaces to serve as constant reminders of steps we can take for safety (1). Even with all these steps in place, approximately 26 of every 10,000 employees will have a burn injury at work each year (2). 

Professions where burns occur most often are somewhat predictable. While welders and cooks are working directly with the tools that cause burns, many other professions that experience burns may not be expecting it. These burns can be very bad and team resources are sometimes very easy to locate because they are utilized pretty often. 

Burn Awareness Week is the first full week of February so let’s take some time to engage in an active learning experience to enhance the communication (https://blog.shrm.org/blog/six-tools-for-improving-communications-with-t...) within our teams as well as the refresh some general knowledge about workplace safety. Below are a few examples we use in healthcare that you can apply to your office.

RACE and PASS: Have your team Rescue, Alarm or Alert, Confine, and Extinguish (RACE) then Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep (PASS)! I mean, what is more fun that actually using a fire extinguisher? I am not suggesting creating a full on panic like Dwight did in The Office (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gO8N3L_aERg) but have teams plan, communicate, and practice exits with various challenges. Some local fire departments will arrange opportunities to use extinguishers in the parking lot. 

Make and participate in a scavenger hunt: Break teams into groups and have them locate burn risks of thermal, chemical, electrical, and sun exposure burns. Then have each team set up a scavenger hunt for items needed for each of these different types of burns like the closest telephone, Eye Wash Stations, or Fire Extinguishers. Then they can trade lists.

Gamification of refresher information: Games can be made of almost any information. For burns it can be as complex as the virtual patients seen in the image or as simple as the University of South Florida Burn Prevention Matching Game (https://www.usfosha.com/osha-articles/burn-prevention-game.aspx). 

The possibilities for how you can use Burn Awareness Week for annual updates are only limited by your imagination. 

IMAGE CAPTION: Photo of an nXhuman simulation at the University of North Carolina School of Pharmacy.

References and resources:

1. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Fire Safety. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/firesafety/index.html

2. Islam SS, Nambiar AM, Doyle EJ, Velilla AM, Biswas RS, Ducatman AM. Epidemiology of Work-Related Burn Injuries: Experience of a State-Managed Workers’ Compensation System. J Trauma. 2000 Dec;49(6):1045-51.


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