How to Protect Yourself from Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are just as serious as heat burns. They present a risk in any location where chemicals are used, and they require immediate treatment. Here’s a guide to the risks of chemical burns and how to protect yourself and others, especially in the workplace.

safety equipment inclduing a hard hat glasses and gloves laying next to a pad that reads chemical safety assessment

Who Is at Risk of Chemical Burns?

Chemical burns present a risk to anyone who deals with chemicals. This can be at home, at school or at work. Some of the most common types of chemicals responsible for burns are:

  • Car battery acid
  • Bleach and other household cleaners
  • Ammonia
  • Drain cleaner
  • Chlorination products for swimming pools
  • Paint thinner
  • Fertilizers

Some workplaces present a bigger risk of chemical burns than others. People working in manufacturing, agriculture and construction often handle chemicals, meaning the risk of being burnt is often higher. However, the risk is present in any job where chemicals are used.

How to Prevent Chemical Burns

The more someone is in contact with a chemical, the more chance there is that they can suffer a burn. Despite this, there are many ways to reduce the risks of getting burnt in the first place.

Accidents and carelessness are the biggest causes of chemical burns, so simply taking care whenever you are handling chemicals is the biggest precaution you can take. Also, if you are using chemicals in the home, store them safely and always keep them well out of the reach of children.

In the workplace, you should:

  • Store chemicals correctly in a safe place
  • Store chemicals in their original protective containers
  • Ensure staff receive the correct training for dealing with chemicals
  • Use proper safety equipment and workwear when handling chemicals (our workwear is designed to be flame resistant as well as repel chemicals like Sulphuric Acid and Sodium Hydroxide)

Treatment for Chemical Burns in the Workplace

Chemical burns must be taken very seriously, even if they do not initially look serious. Whatever the size of the burn, you should always aim to rinse the area of skin under cool water for up to 20 minutes and remove any clothing or jewellery that has been contaminated. Then wrap the injury in a sterile dressing such as a bandage.

If the burn is not too serious, you might simply need to take a painkiller for the pain. However, if it is more serious, either call an ambulance or go to A&E. Always go to hospital if the burn is on your face, eyes, hands or groin, or on a joint like your elbow or knee.

In hospital, other treatments are used for more serious burns. These could include antibiotics, medications to reduce itching and even skin grafting.

Here’s what the NHS says about treating chemical burns.

Take Care when Handling Chemicals

Chemical burns can be incredibly serious. If you handle chemicals in the workplace, make sure correct procedures are followed and the right protective clothing is worn. If you are using chemicals at home, make sure you take great care with them, including everyday cleaning products, to reduce the risk of burns.

And if you are unlucky enough to get burnt, always treat any burns immediately and seek medical help as soon as possible.

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