Burn injuries are a common hazard in some professions — particularly industrial and construction work.
That makes it important to understand the basic types of burns and how to handle first-aid treatment while you’re waiting on the medics to arrive — the information may help you save a co-worker’s life.
Assess the burn’s severity
Burns are divided up according to how severe the skin damage actually is on first appearance. Let the medics know what to expect by describing the burns as accurately as possible:
- First-degree burns are the least serious, although they usually have a dry, angry and red appearance.
- Second-degree burns are thicker, deeper and can blister, leaving either a mixed wet-dry appearance.
- Third-degree burns are deep, thick, wet and expose underlying tissue that’s destroyed.
Knowing what to expect can help the medics prepare to treat the victim more rapidly, so tell the medics how severe you think the victim’s condition is right away.
Follow treatment protocols
Use the following methods to respond to burns while waiting on professional help to arrive:
- If the victim has been burned by electricity, turn off the power source before you touch the victim.
- Smother or douse any smoldering clothing or flames on the victim.
- If his or her clothing has been in contact with a corrosive agent that’s causing a chemical burn, get the clothing off of the victim carefully and gently rinse his or her body to remove any lingering parts of the substance.
- Assess the burn level.
- If the burn appears superficial, rinse the burn with cool water and apply burn cream from the first-aid kit.
- If the burn appears deeper, like a second-degree burn, do not rinse with cold water — instead, apply the burn cream and lightly cover the wound with sterile gauze to keep it clean.
- If there are third-degree burns, loosely drape a sterile dressing over the wounds and lay the person down with his or her feet elevated to prevent shock.
- If your first-aid kit has an oxygen tank, give the victim oxygen and any painkillers you have while you wait on the medics.
Anyone who suffers a burn while working at a construction site or industrial plant should consider speaking with an attorney as soon as possible in order to protect his or her rights to compensation.
Source: Safer employees, “Electrical burns,” accessed Sep. 29, 2017