Where Steam Exists – Know the Risks
How do you prevent steam burns?
While the steam system is an essential component of our operations, it also presents a potential for injury. We must all remain diligent when working with and around steam and hot condensate hoses. Thermal burns from direct contact with steam or hot condensate are painful, require immediate treatment, and are slow to heal. Skin exposed to 156 °F condensate for one second can result in a third-degree burn!
What are some hazards to consider when preparing to use steam?
Line of fire – Not just yourself, but others as well. Industry has suffered injuries not only to individuals using steam hoses, but also when multiple employees were working on a job that required the use of a steam hose where insufficient communication resulted in accidental injury.
Equipment failure – Always inspect steam hoses before use, and get rid of steam hoses that are worn or at risk of being compromised. When a steam hose is no longer in use, shut the supply, properly drain, and then store the hose. If you do experience contact with steam, seek medical attention immediately, however minor the injury may appear, as it can typically help minimize the extent of the injury.
Also consider this: High risk activities typically receive a high level of attention. For example, we might use extreme caution when opening the valve on a steam or hot condensate hose, ensuring that the hose is not directed towards individuals or equipment. Once in use however, especially if more than one person is involved, even a simple task such as straightening or adjusting the hose may appear to be a routine move, but the change in condition may present a potential hazard to personnel or equipment at the other end of the hose! Also, beware of steam traps discharging on operating units.
Remember – An injury can occur in a matter of seconds – you can help prevent this from happening by staying focused on what you are doing and communicating with others in the area, especially others involved with the task at hand.
We all share a goal of zero incidents and zero injuries, so please keep these tips in mind, especially when working on routine jobs. Let’s continue to work safely!