Thermal Hazards

Man working on glassblowing
© Uwe Völkner, FOX photo agency

Accidents involving cold or hot media usually have acute and lasting health effects for those affected. For example, the statistical evaluation of occupational accidents by the DGUV for 2018 [1] records a total of 17 cases with new occupational accident pensions that were due to the consequences of extensive burns. In addition to the high immediate pain, injuries with difficult-to-heal wounds, risk of infection and scarring are possible consequences. Also, severe burn injuries often lead to serious psychological impairments with depression and long periods of incapacity to work. Shock reactions due to touch can furthermore cause secondary damage such as falling and impact accidents. Contact with cold surfaces or media can cause pain sensation, numbness or local frostbite on exposed skin areas. Depending on the severity, frostbite can damage the skin and underlying tissue, often associated with slow healing of wounds and possible death of tissue.

On machines, devices, tools and systems, the technologically induced occurrence of

  • very cold or hot surfaces (e.g. on annealing furnaces, hotplates, boilers, dry ice),
  • media (e.g. molten metals, boiling water or grease, refrigerants) and
  • emissions (e.g. superheated steam)

must be expected. In all cases, direct skin contact or inhalation of these media can lead to acute damage by local frostbite or burning/scalding of the skin.

[1] Statistics on occupational accidents 2018, published by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) Issue: November 2019


  • Dr.-Ing. Kersten Bux

For further detailed information please refer to our German Website.

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