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Burns and Scalds

There are many items in use in Churches and Places of Worship that could cause burns or scalds.  Objects could have hot temperatures include heating systems, equipment in kitchens and lighting equipment. 

Similarly, cold temperatures can cause cold burns, and such temperatures could be encountered in refrigeration equipment and specialist systems which can produce, or contain, cold temperatures.

Heating and Boiler Equipment

All Places of Worship have some form of heating system, whether portable heaters,  fixed central heating or storage heating systems.  Where the exposed parts of the system are above 50 degrees Celsius, there is a risk that people could burn themselves.  Sometimes radiators with a lower than normal surface temperature are used ('Low Surface Temperature' or 'LST' for short), where the temperature of exposed parts is limited to about 43 degrees Celsius.

If there is little chance of someone touching hot pipes and heaters, there might not be any need to do anything.  If the area in which the pipes are located is not used by the public, it is likely that little will need to be done, and this would be the case for a boiler room accessed only by employees or volunteers operating the system.

In your Risk Assessment, you need to consider if children and babies could be at risk as these are at a greater risk of burns and scalds compared to adults.  Think too about the elderly who might be slower or less able to react if they touch something hot as this group can also be at an elevated risk. 

Also think about hazards near to the heat source, considering if there could be potential for someone to trip over something and come into contact with something that is hot, or if a person is forced to walk too close to something which is very hot, like an oven, due to lack of space.

The surface temperature of any portable heaters needs to be reasonable, otherwise the heaters should be operated where they will not be touched. In some situations, it might be necessary to use a metal 'fire guard' or similar protective grille. 

Radiant heaters (such as bar fires) give off heat as infrared light and this can be uncomfortable for those close to the heater.  Patio style heaters must not be used indoors as these are not intended for this use, and burn bottled gas which could emit harmful carbon monoxide gas.

Boiler systems also get hot, although most modern boilers are designed not to get over-hot to touch.  This equipment is usually in a locked place where people cannot get access, and those people who do access the boiler are aware of the temperature hazards.  A sign should be on display outside the boiler room or out building informing people that only authorised personnel are allowed access.

Kitchen Hazards

There are many different items that could cause a hazard to the people who use the kitchen.  To prevent people being harmed, especially children, access should be restricted to kitchens.  This is also beneficial to food hygiene: the fewer people enter the kitchen, the less possibility there is for food items being contaminated.

Hot water for beverages is typically boiled using kettles or large water urns.  While kettles might be adequate for use in small kitchens for staff use, a larger fixed water boiler would be best.  Most older tea-urns get very hot when in use as there is no insulation around the water, whereas a modern water boiler is well insulated.  It is recommended that modern, wall-fitted heaters are installed as a replacement for hot water urns, especially when hot water is regularly needed.  Such heaters are usually connected to the mains water supply and electrical supply.

Other equipment used in Kitchens will get hot through use, including pots, pans, cookers, microwaves and the items being cooked.  This heat source is not avoidable and some care is needed to ensure that people are safe.  Oven gloves or mitts should be provided when people are expected to move hot items. People need to be aware that pans must be correctly balanced on cookers with the handle not projecting over the front of the cooker.

There are also hazards in kitchen where cold temperatures are an issue.  Large, commercial, freezers can make foodstuffs very cold, and the cold temperature could result in cold-burns.  If someone is expected to regularly enter a walk-in freezer, adequate protective equipment would be required, and for those who regularly handle frozen items, thermal gloves would be necessary.

Hot Water

Warm water is needed for washing hands hygienically and effectively.  Any  hand wash basin should have a suitable supply of hot water.  Boiler systems are usually set to heat water to very high temperatures to ensure that any bacteria are killed.  Usually the hot water at the tap would be adjusted to be about 50 degrees Celsius.

The water in wash hand basins should ideally be regulated using a thermostatic valve if there is perceived to be a risk to vulnerable groups.  This regulates the water to a more suitable temperature for hand washing.  Where these are not installed, a simple warning sign could be displayed to ensure people know that the water is not temperature regulated.  These signs should display a black triangle on a yellow background with the words "warning not water" (or similar) printed in black text on the sign.

Other Hazards

Candles can form a central part of Worship in many Churches and Places of Worship.  Care is not only needed to prevent a fire hazard, but people can be burnt by hot candles or fixtures.  Candles must only be burnt suitable holders and never directly above the heads of people to prevent hot wax dripping onto the people below.  Where possible, candles should be burnt within a glass cover that is large enough not to get too hot.

In some Places of Worship, stage lighting and similar equipment is used.  This equipment, along with the some parts of the control systems, can get very hot.  The lights must be mounted high enough that people cannot touch them without using steps or a ladder.  Some lights are designed to be used on the floor (sometimes called 'floor cans') and these would be considered unsuitable for use in the public areas of a Place of Worship unless adequately guarded or protected, however they might be suitable for use on a stage. 

LED lighting does not pose the same thermal hazard, but care is needed to ensure that the high-intensity LED sources are not directed into people's eyes when they are close to the light source.

Sometimes, for maintenance work, specialist equipment would be in use that produces high temperatures.  Equipment such as heat guns, soldering irons and blowtorches must only be used when absolutely necessary and by competent persons.  It is recommended that a 'permit to work' system is used to give permission to contractors and maintenance staff.  This is important for fire safety reasons.

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