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Chemical burns: Exposure can lead to lasting consequences

| Jan 23, 2020 | Uncategorized

You were working when the unexpected happened. A colleague started to take some items out of the lab, but they tripped. The next thing you knew, your skin felt like it was on fire. One of the caustic substances they were working with had already burned through your clothing and was now eating away at your skin.

Fortunately, working in a lab means that you had access to a chemical wash station and could quickly rinse off the substance. Still, you were badly hurt and now have many concerns during recovery. You may have to have skin grafts and surgery.

Chemical burns are responsible for many hospitalizations every year

Chemical burns are responsible for many of the emergency room visits that workers make each year. Whether it’s a battery that has exploded onto a mechanic, bleach or other chemicals that have mixed into noxious fumes, or direct acids coming into contact with lab workers’ skin, the results are the same: People are dealing with serious, dangerous injuries.

Chemical burns can burn through the skin and go all the way to the bone. There is a risk of infection and nerve destruction. When bad enough, workers who suffer from chemical burns may need medication for pain management as well as multiple surgeries to repair the damage.

How can you prevent chemical burns in your workplace?

Preventing chemical burns starts with knowing about the chemicals in your workplace and how to handle them safely. Every chemical that is in your workplace should have hazard communication details. For example, the label on a cleaning spray will say if it is toxic and the chemical risks. The labels should also tell you how to prevent burns if you do come into direct contact with the substance.

Your employer may want to start a hazard communication training program as well. Workers who regularly come into contact with chemicals should know how to react in an emergency. If it has been some time since the last training, then all workers should receive a refresher course.

There are many kinds of chemicals that can cause burns, including industrial cleaners, laboratory chemicals and even drain cleaners or gasoline. Workers of almost any type could come into contact with these chemicals. If you do, remember that you need to seek emergency care for your injuries. These burns can be dangerous and lead to serious complications, so it’s best to get help as soon as possible.