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February 04, 2008
Protecting Your Workers from Gasoline-Related Burns

Most gasoline injuries are preventable if gas is properly used and safely stored. Here are some tips that can help your employees and their families prevent gasoline-related burns.

Remind workers to handle gas with extreme caution. Here are some helpful gasoline safety tips from American Burn Association that you can use to train your employees to handle gas with care:

  • Don't smoke or use matches, lighters, or other ignition sources any where around gas. Remember, gas vapors can travel far from gas containers in enclosed areas.
  • Use gasoline only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Turn off equipment and let cool before filling the gas tank.
  • Never use gasoline to start charcoal on a grill--use proper charcoal starter.
  • Never use gas as a cleaning fluid or solvent-or to clean your hands.
  • Don't store gas cans in your vehicle.
  • Store gas in approved containers in a cool, well-ventilated area (for example, in a shed or garage-never in the house), and only keep a minimum amount on hand.
  • Never use glass or plastic bottles for gasoline storage.

Talk about treatment for burns. Burns, whether from gasoline or some other source, can be painful and sometimes need medical attention. The American Burn Association recommends seeking medical attention for:

  • Burns to the face, hands, feet, genital area, or major joints (knees, elbows, shoulders)
  • Chemical and electrical burns
  • Burns that cover a large area
Why It Matters...

According to the National Fire Protection Association:

  • Nearly 150,000 fires occurring in the United States every year are caused by gasoline.
  • About 500 Americans die every year in gasoline-related fires.
  • Almost half a billion dollars in property damage can be linked to gasoline annually.
  • One gallon of gas has the explosive power of 20 sticks of dynamite.

Minor burns can usually be treated with first aid on the job or at home by flushing the area with cool water for a few minutes and covering it with a sterile dressing from the first aid kit. Don't apply ointment, salves, creams, or ice to burns, and never break blisters.

Explain the symptoms of overexposure to gas. Gasoline can also be a health hazard if you inhale concentrated fumes for too long or get it on your skin. Symptoms of overexposure to gas vapors include:

  • Respiratory problems such as coughing and trouble breathing
  • Rash from skin contact with gasoline
  • Irritation or burning in the eyes from gas splashes
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness, numbness in arms and legs, or burning sensation
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Nausea or vomiting

If an employee experiences any symptoms from inhaling gas vapors, he or she should get into fresh air immediately. If symptoms persist the employee should seek medical treatment right away. If an employee becomes unconscious from breathing gas vapors, co-workers should call 911 immediately.

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