Warning of burn risk and hand sanitiser

New advice from CE Safety warns of the risk of using alcohol hand sanitiser in certain workplaces that use open flames/heat sources such as welding, soldering, grinding, cutting and even in a kitchen.

CE Safety says alcohol-based hand sanitisers used in the fight against COVID-19 are potentially flammable and pose safety risks if used in the wrong working conditions.

A trainer for CE Safety was recently delivering a hot works training course for a company that is responsible for repairing gas pipelines.

Their hygiene measures included alcohol-free hand sanitiser, as an employee who had used alcohol gel had been unlucky enough to come into contact with a static spark, which ignited the gel and gave them second-degree burns on their hands.

Alcohol is highly effective at killing germs, which is why it is such a prevalent ingredient in hand sanitisers worldwide. Unfortunately, liquids that have high concentrations of alcohol come with a fire risk.

This means that if any work environments involve open flames/heat sources, flying sparks or anything of that nature, the use of alcoholic hand sanitiser poses a constant risk to fire safety and personal health and safety, because the vapour could conceivably ignite.

These vapours are reacting at their ‘flashpoint’ and then can ignite in normal air conditions.

A spokesperson from CE Safety says: “Any person who carries out hot works – such as welding, soldering, grinding, cutting, burning or any other process that produces sparks – should, as a rule, use a hand-sanitising solution that is completely free of alcohol, due to the burn risk.

“Logic does suggest that common hot-work PPE, such as welding gloves and masks, would negate the need for non-alcoholic hand sanitiser, but it cannot be assumed that skin will be covered at all times – and accidents do happen.”

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