Did You Know:

  • There are almost as many burn injuries from hot liquids and steam hazards as there are from flash fires.

  • There is currently no legislation protecting workers from the hazards of hot liquid and steam hazards.

  • There are no safety standards to speak of that protect workers from these hazards

  • There are no protective clothing systems that adequately are protective against these hazards AND comfortable to wear

In the words of Mechanical Engineer and thermal testing expert, Mark Ackerman, 

"There is ample evidence around today to indicate that the severity/number of accidents related to accidental steam release/hot fluid release is comparable in magnitude to those related to flash fire.  The OHS code and worker education system has reduced the severity of injury related to flash fire / fire to a great extent and can be considered very successful.  A good deal of time and money is still spent each year educating workers on the hazards as well as mitigation of these hazards but very little is given over to steam/hot fluid education.  Given that steam/hot fluid related accidents are as severe in consequences as flash fire events is would seem reasonable to address this issue.

The American Burn Association produces an annual summary report of burn injuries and based on the latest version [3] there were more than 8300 work related injuries associated with fire/flame and more than 5400 work related injuries related to scalds over the ten year period reported (2002-2011).  The data shown in Figures 2 and 3, extracted from the reference, include reporting from four Canadian burn treatment centres.

Canadian statistics are not readily separable from the overall statistics.  Many companies keep records of injuries (both cause and result) as well as “near misses” and are a good source of potential benefits to both workers and the “bottom line” that could result from changes to the code requirements.

Work over the last decade has shown very clearly that PPE intended to protect against a flash fire hazard does little or nothing to protect a worker against a steam/hot fluid hazard.  The materials traditionally used allow steam/hot fluids to penetrate very easily and result in burn injuries as severe as those usually associated with flash fire.  Given that the number and severity of burn injuries associated with hot fluids is comparable in number to those associated with flash fire it is surprising that this has not been addressed within the Occupational Health and Safety code (s) (within the USA and Canada) already."