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Federal safety regulations: Protection against fire hazards

Workplace hazards are present in just about every workplace in Missouri. Employers are responsible for protecting their workers against all potential hazards. Federal safety regulations require company owners to provide personal protective equipment appropriate for each situation. Many lives have been lost in accidental fires that caught unprotected workers by surprise.

Although fire retardant clothing can prevent all burn injuries, it is only effective if worn correctly. It can protect workers against flash fires, arc flashes and even splattering molten metal. Unfortunately, the lack of proper training about the way to wear fire-resistant clothing has had some devastating consequences.

Workers may be tempted to wear non-fire-retardant outer layers or under layers with their fire-resistant suits. What makes it even more dangerous is wearing synthetics that are highly flammable, compromising the protection offered by the protective clothing. Polyester T-shirts are sometimes worn for moisture management, but if it catches fire, it can melt into the skin. Another mistake often made is the failure to properly tuck in shirttails. If that catches fire, the flames and heat can quickly spread to other fabrics under the protective layer and cause severe burns.

Compliance with federal safety regulations may prevent burn injuries that typically cause extended absences from work and require extensive medical procedures that may include skin grafts and other costly medical procedures. Fortunately, the Missouri workers' compensation insurance system provides financial relief. Benefits claims may be filed for medical expenses and lost income – based on average weekly wages -- while temporary disability benefits may be provided when applicable.

Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, "Avoid flame-resistant clothing mishaps", June 27, 2016

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