A burn can be a very serious injury that affects several layers of your body tissue. A severe burn may require surgery to treat. The recovery process can take months, and the scars may last forever.
You may be at increased risk of burns at your workplace depending on the type of work you do and the hazards you may face. Knowing what can cause a burn may help you to reduce your risk of exposure and subsequent injury.
Thermal burns, i.e., those that result from intense heat, are the most common type. When you think of thermal burns, you may think first of sources of dry heat, such as open flames. However, thermal burns can also result from wet heat, such as heated liquids or steam.
Exposure to a strong electrical current can cause this type of burn. Electrical burns are most likely at the points where the current enters and exits your body. Therefore, they occur commonly on the hands, head and feet.
When certain chemicals make contact with your skin, they can cause burn damage. Examples of such chemicals include certain detergents, solvents and strong acids.
Friction results from two surfaces rubbing together. When one of the surfaces is soft, such as your skin, and the other surface is hard, the hard surface scrapes at the soft one. Friction also generates heat. Both the heat and the scraping can cause damage to your skin known collectively as a friction burn. Examples of friction burns include carpet burns and rope burns. They can also result from a motor vehicle accident.
Some jobs can expose you to high levels of radiation. Workers at risk include flight crews, miners and sometimes x-ray technicians. You may think that you are not at risk of radiation burns if you do not have a job such as this. However, if you work outdoors, you may experience the most common type of radiation burn: sunburn.