High-Temperature Safety

Hazard Overview:

  • Burns are caused by exposure to thermal (heat), electrical, radiation, or chemical sources
  • Thermal burns occur when hot metals, scalding liquids, steam, or flames come in contact with the skin
  • Hot liquid causes 3rd degree burns . . .
    • in 15 seconds at 133 degrees Fahrenheit (56 C)
    • in 5 seconds at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 C)
    • in 2 seconds at 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 C)
    • in 1 second at 156 degrees Fahrenheit (69 C)

Burn Severity:

  • First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin (epidermis), causing pain and redness. The prototype is mild sunburn.
  • Second-degree burns extend to the second layer of the skin (the dermis), causing pain, redness, and blisters that may ooze. Deep second-degree burns may progress to third-degree burns over the course of several days.
  • Third-degree burns involve both layers of the skin and may also damage the underlying bones, muscles, and tendons. The burn site appears pale, charred, or leathery. There is generally no pain in the area because the nerve endings are destroyed.
  • Fourth-degree burns extend through the skin and subcutaneous fat into the underlying muscle and bone. Fourth-degree burns are stiff and charred.

High-Temperature Safety:

  • Maintain all fire safety procedures
  • Maintain all electrical, chemical, and radiation safety procedures
  • When necessarily working with anything above 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius) in the laboratory:
    • Use proper PPE for the work being performed:
      • Heat-resistant clothing
      • Welding gloves
      • Face shields
    • Do not wear synthetic material which may melt at high temperatures
    • Only handle material/equipment as necessary to complete work
    • Use special caution when working with high-temperature liquids or gases
    • If you have steam lines running through your lab (even if you don’t use steam) – be aware of where they are, and make a plan for how to protect people in case of a like break or a leak.

First Aid and Burn Treatment:

  • First-degree burns:
    • Run cool water on burned area for 5 to 10 minutes or cover the area with a cool compress.
    • DO NOT apply oil, butter, or ice to the burn.
    • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain and swelling.
    • Any burn to the eye requires immediate emergency help.
    • DO NOT use burn care or other ointments for 24 hours to avoid sealing in the burn.
  • Second-degree burns:
    • DO NOT break blisters.
    • DO NOT remove clothing that is stuck to the skin.
    • Run cool water on burned area for 5 to 10 minutes, and cleanse with mild soap. You may also cover the area with a cool compress, then carefully remove clothing that is not stuck to the skin.
    • •Elevate burned area above the heart.
    • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain and swelling.
    • If not near a medical facility, apply bacitracin ointment or honey on broken blisters to prevent infection (this is the only situation in which bacitracin or honey should be applied to burned skin).
    • If the burn is near the mouth, nose, or eye, seek emergency medical help immediately.
  • Third-degree burns:
    • If the person is on fire, have them stop, drop, and roll.
    • Call 9-1-1.
    • Check airway, breathing, and circulation.
    • DO NOT remove clothing that is stuck to the skin.
    • Run cool water continuously on burned area. DO NOT immerse large burn areas in water.
    • Elevate burned area above the heart.
    • Cover the burned area with a sterile bandage or a clean sheet. DO NOT apply any ointments.
  • Needless to say, burn prevention is a far more desirable strategy

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