Any flammable or hazardous chemical can cause a severe burn when you are exposed to it at work. The effect will be graver than just burning your finger right above a hot stove, which can be entitled as a minor burn. Disfigurement, scarring, and serious infections are other brutal aftereffects apart from the tissue and muscle damage and extreme pain. Even fatalities can be caused in extreme cases.
In general, what can be termed as a ‘chemical burn’?
Getting exposed to either strong acids or strong alkalines causes chemical burns. Such accidents can occur by a dangerous chemical reaction or an accidental spill. Mixing of any two incompatible substances can cause such a chemical reaction.
Both the skin and even the internal organs will be affected by the chemical burns depending on the occupational setting and the substance used. As mentioned earlier, hazardous acids, as well as alkalines, can cause chemical burns.
Dangerous acids causing burns:Sulphuric Acid is one of the most common chemicals used in the workplace for various purposes like that of fertilizer manufacturing, as battery fluid and metal cleaners beside the much common use in toilet cleaners. The chemical used in electroplating, engraving and metal refining is the Nitric Acid. Some other chemicals such as the Phosphoric acid are present in detergents, rust proofers, and fertilizer plants. Yet another popular chemical used in the workplace is Hydrochloric acid utilized in manufacturing dye and metal refining.
Alkaline Chemicals:Calcium and Sodium hypochlorite are used in pools as bleach chlorination materials. The major content of oven and drain cleaner are Potassium Hydroxide and Sodium Hydroxide. Fertilizers are manufactured with the consumption of Gaseous Anhydrous Ammonia. Detergents and other cleaners comprise of the Phosphate Alkaline content.
Types of Injuries
The injuries resulted from the exposure will wholly depend on the severity of the burn, which can range from surface burns to third-degree burns. Even permanent blindness can be triggered when acids are splashed in the face, without the shielding of a protective eye gear.
Different Methods of Treatment
Grafting healthy skin from any other part of the body to the burned surface is the most common method implemented in the treatment. Then, there is the debridement of skin which is way more painful. Other burn treatment regimens are the IV fluids, Special bandages, and other antibiotic wound care.
On average, about 32 million workers were occupationally exposed to hazardous chemicals in their workplaces, based on the studies done by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These burns seldom lead to severe health issues. By following appropriate safety rules, most of these chemical accidents can be avoided.