New Report: Burns and scalds injuries in the workplace

cooking flames

Well over half a million (595,000) people reported being injured at work between 2015 and 2018 and the effects can be devastating.

The most prevalent types of injury which are self-reported and the numbers of incidents in their thousands include strain and sprain, superficial, lacerations and open wounds, fracture and broken bones, burns and scalds, and dislocation of joints.

The data: workplace burns and scalds

Here at CE Safety, we conducted an analysis of data from the past four years (2015 to 2018) by the Labour Force Survey and found that 23,000 workers reported suffering from non-fatal burns or scalds. This means that an average of 75 workers out of every 100,000 suffered from a burn or scald at work. In addition, the average number of full days lost because of workplace burns or scalds was 45,000, costing businesses financially and in terms of decreased productivity.


Between 2013 and 2018, five people were reported by employers to have suffered a fatal burn injury, according to Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). The number of non-fatal burn or scald injuries reported by employers during the same period was 1,745.


The biggest workplace burns and scalds risks

According to the World Health Organization, the most common types of burn injuries in the workplace occur as a result of accidental misuse or mishandling of thermal, chemical or electrical sources or because of fire. 

The consequences of workplace burns and scalds

The Health & Safety Executive states that many serious accidents at work resulting in burns can be avoided using due diligence. Employers can be fined heavily if these injuries result from unsafe work practices, including employees not having the correct protective clothing or equipment.

What is a burn?

The NHS describes burns and scalds as damage to the skin, usually caused by heat. Both are treated the same way. A burn is caused by dry heat; an iron or a fire for example. A scald is caused by wet matter, such as hot water or steam.

Burns can be extremely painful and cause:

  • Red or peeling skin
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • White or charred skin

The amount of pain someone might experience is not always related to how serious the burn is. Even a very serious burn might seem relatively painless.

National Burn Awareness Day seeks to promote prevention and good first aid as key to reducing the number of burns and scalds occurring in the UK every day. 

Appropriate first aid must be used to treat any burns or scalds as quickly as possible. This will limit the amount of damage to the skin. You can learn how to adminsiter appropriate first aid by enrolling onto an emergency first aid in the workplace training course. 

you can apply the following first aid techniques to yourself or someone else who has been burnt

  1. 1. Quickly stop the burning by removing the person from the area, dousing flames with water or smothering flames with a blanket.
  2. 2. Remove any clothing or jewellery near the burnt area but nothing which is stuck to burnt skin and could cause further damage.
  3. 3. Cool the burn with cool water for 20 minutes as soon as possible. Never use ice, iced water or greasy substances, like butter.
  4. 4. Keep the person warm using blankets or clothing but never place them on the injured area. Warmth will prevent hypothermia, where a person’s body temperature drops below 35C (95F). Hypothermia is a risk when cooling a large burnt area.
  5. 5. Place a layer of cling film over the burn, rather than wrapping around a limb. A clean plastic bag can be used for hand burns.
  6. 6. Sit upright if the face is burnt. Avoid lying down as this could increase swelling.

go to a hospital a&e for:

  • Large or deep burns bigger than the victim’s hand
  • Burns that cause white or charred skin
  • Burns on the face, hands, arms, feet, legs or genitals that cause blisters
  • All chemical and electrical burns

seek medical help immediately if the victim:

  • Has other injuries requiring treatment
  • Is going into shock – signs include clammy skin, sweating, shallow breathing, weakness or dizziness
  • Is pregnant
  • Is aged 60+
  • Is aged under five
  • Has a medical condition; heart, lung liver disease or diabetes
  • Has a weakened immune system; HIV or AIDS or is undergoing chemotherapy.
  • If someone has inhaled smoke or fumes they should seek medical attention

Delayed symptoms can include:

  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Singed nasal hair
  • Facial burns

Electrical burns

Electrical burns might not look serious but can be damaging and require immediate attention at a hospital A&E.


If someone has been injured by a low-voltage source (220 to 240 volts) for example a domestic electricity supply, switch off the power supply or remove the person from the electrical source using a material that does not conduct electricity, such as a wooden stick.

Never approach a person who is connected to a high voltage source (1,000 volts or more).

Acid and chemical burns

Acid and chemical burns require immediate A&E attention.

If possible, find out which chemical caused the burn and tell the healthcare professionals.

If you are helping someone, e and then:

  • Remove contaminated clothing on the skin
  • If the chemical is dry, brush it off their skin
  • Use running water to remove any traces of the chemical from the burnt area

Watch St. John Ambulance’ video revealing how to treat burns and scalds:

Find out more about how to treat burns and other injuries though our first aid training courses.