Professionals in the chemical industry know that many chemicals mix together to make toxic fumes or hazardous waste; and chemical burns can lead to serious problems that require immediate medical care.
Chemical burns can occur in almost any work environment where caustic liquid or hazardous fumes may be present. Whether you’re working at a restaurant or in a laboratory, there’s a potential for chemical burns from cleaning solutions and other chemicals.
Chemical burns are generally the result of your eyes or skin coming into contact with strong alkaloids, corrosive or caustic materials, or strong acids. These materials eat away at the skin and tissues inside the body, leading to significant injuries.
Some common causes of chemical burns in the workplace include exposure to:
- Rust removers
- Drain cleaners
- Bleach powders
…and many others.
How can an employer help prevent chemical burns?
Employers can help prevent chemical burns by making sure that all workers are trained in hazard communication. Hazard communication teaches the labels and symbols that are used to tell you about the chemical risk of a substance. In the case of exposure, hazard communication training also teaches workers how to prevent burns, such as by using a chemical eyewash station or chemical shower after exposure.
It’s important for workers to take hazard communication training courses regularly, as these are often updated.
What should you do if you suffer a chemical burn while on the job?
If you suffer a chemical burn on the job, it’s important to take steps to stop the chemicals from reacting. For example, if you get bleach on your skin and it begins to burn, you should run the affected body part under cool or cold water to cleanse your skin of the chemical. Every chemical is a little different, so you or someone else may need to look into the hazard training manual or at the hazard information to see the best method for stopping further chemical reactions until emergency help arrives.
Chemical burns have the potential to cause significant damage to the body. Depending on the affected area, they can even kill. It is important for someone to call 911 if a worker is affected by chemicals and then to start immediate treatment to stop further chemical reactions on the skin. A quick response is necessary to prevent chemical burns from leading to disfigurement and damage to the body that can’t be reversed.