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How to safely operate a blowtorch

A blowtorch is an essential piece of equipment for people working in some diverse industries. For example, you’d expect welders to use them almost daily, to weld things together under a high degree of heat. Plumbers also use them to weld pipework together to make a secure connection that will not leak. You will even find chefs using them to create the beautiful topping on a crème brulée – the top that cracks when you hit it with a spoon to reach the rest of the dessert beneath.

It’s not earth shattering to reveal that a blowtorch can be a very dangerous piece of equipment. If used correctly, there is no reason why the user should suffer any injuries. However, any job that involves the use of a blowtorch illustrates very neatly why a risk assessment is essential prior to that job being tackled. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) lists a five-step process to ensure all risk assessments are thorough prior to any job being undertaken, regardless of the industry or the process that needs to be completed.

Working with a blowtorch

Firstly, it is vital that you choose the right blowtorch for the job you must do. For example, a welder is going to use an oxyacetylene blowtorch that will be much larger than the small handheld blowtorch a chef would use.

Yet in both cases, there is the risk that injury could potentially occur. Every blowtorch should be checked for damage and other potential issues before every occasion it is used. These torches have the potential to cause serious burns for the user and for anyone else who gets too close to it when in use. Even after it has been used, it can remain very hot for quite a while, and should be put safely out of harm’s way until it has cooled. Never change or replace a gas cylinder until the torch has cooled either, as this can be dangerous.

Minimising the risks associated with blowtorches

With proper risk assessments done in advance of any work involving blowtorches, it is possible to reduce the risks associated with them. Most aspects of a blowtorch are common sense regarding safety:

  • Check the blowtorch for damage or other faults prior to use
  • Always make sure you understand how to operate it
  • Never take any unnecessary risks, or wave it around in case you hit someone else with it
  • Never have the flame on unless you are in the right position to use it
  • Make sure the blowtorch is never put on a hot surface – this can lead to an explosion
  • Always let it cool completely before changing cylinders
  • Always let it cool completely before storing it safely away

Another essential element of blowtorch safety highlights the use of personal protective equipment, or PPE. For instance, wearing a protective full-face mask can prevent sparks from going in your eyes or burning any other part of your face. A protective suit can also prevent burns from occurring to other parts of the body.

Preventative measures are good – but make sure you know first aid for burns too

Understanding first aid could one day save a life. If you work in an environment where blowtorches are regularly used, it would make sense to know more about burns and how to treat them. The Fire Service recommends the ‘stop, drop and roll’ method if whatever you are wearing catches fire. This could potentially happen if you aren’t wearing proper PPE and sparks from the blowtorch hit your clothes.

Burns can range from minor ones to those that are far more serious. Since blowtorches work at a very high temperature, the risk exists for serious burns to be experienced. Therefore, it is much better to put preventative measures in place, so no one needs to suffer from injuries caused by incorrect use of a blowtorch.

Can you claim anything for a work accident involving a blowtorch?

In some industries, blowtorches are a regular part of the equipment used to complete certain jobs. We’ve seen they are used by plumbers, welders and even chefs. However, while these jobs are all very diverse, they all share the need to ensure workers are safe whenever they use blowtorches.

The important element to think about when considering the likelihood of a claim is whether a third party was negligent. For example, did your employer fail to provide you with the personal protective equipment you needed to work with a blowtorch? Should you have completed training on how to use blowtorches safely, and yet your employer never got around to organising that training for you? These are examples that show there could potentially be a case to make for negligence when you’ve been injured at work.

Does it matter how severe the injury is?

In cases where you can claim for negligence, it doesn’t matter what type of burn you have. It could be one of these four burn types:

  • Minor burn to the epidermis
  • Minor burn to the dermis as well as the epidermis (a deeper burn than the first type)
  • A deep burn to the dermis and possibly a partial-thickness burn
  • A full thickness burn – the most severe burn you can experience

The severity of the burn you have could influence the amount of compensation you may be awarded if your case is successful. However, even minor burns may potentially lead to an award if negligence can be proven to have occurred.

Contact Accident Advice Helpline to learn more

It’s always best to contact the experts in personal injury advice if you have been injured at work by a blowtorch. Accident Advice Helpline can help, and we can provide no-obligation advice as well.

Call now on 0800 689 5659. Any blowtorch injury could potentially lead to a compensation payment being received, so if one of our solicitors believes you have a good case, they’ll steer you through the process of claiming and offer their experience and advice along the way.