This document alerts all healthcare staff involved in the prescribing, dispensing or administration of paraffin-based skin products of a potential fire hazard.
Bandages, dressings and clothing in contact with paraffin-based products, for example white soft paraffin, white soft paraffin plus 50% liquid paraffin or emulsifying ointment are easily ignited with a naked flame or cigarette.
Following a reported death, the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) commissioned the Health and Safety Executive to undertake fire hazard testing with white soft paraffin on a variety of bandages, dressings and clothing. The results showed the ability to reproduce the fire hazard in a controlled environment. This risk was not previously well recognised.
This document is accompanied by:
- general advice and advice for hospital inpatients
- supporting information for healthcare staff including background and findings
- posters in English and Welsh
- Health and Safety Laboratory report FS/06/12 ‘Fire hazards associated with contamination of dressings and clothing by paraffin based ointments’
- examples of products containing paraffin
- warning / hazard stickers for products
- a patient safety video
- leaflets in English and Welsh.
View the video here