Chemical Spills at Places of Employment

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Chemical spills in the home or place of employment are serious. Not only do they pose a threat to those in the area from the fumes, but once the product comes in contact with the skin severe burns may result. And, although the fumes might not produce any immediate burning, the fumes and physical contact with the skin could be disfiguring and deadly. Most of us can remember lessons in science class where some of us took the liberty to mix liquids that were not compatible. We always had water nearby, and seemingly often conducted our experiment under the supervision of a teacher. Did that give us the training for real life? Some of us now work in places of employment where chemicals are used on a daily basis: places such as dry cleaning facilities, pest and insect removal businesses, gasoline and oil plants, and science laboratories. Many of us come in contact with sulfuric acid, nitric acid and phosphoric acid. If proper precautions are not taken, the contact and exposure could be deadly.

Chemical burns are not always immediately detected. While they do not produce any direct heat, once the fumes from liquid or gas come in contact with the skin, the burning starts. If you are employed at a place where chemicals are often used, you may want to pay special attention if you begin to feel any of the following symptoms alerting you to seek medical help immediately:

  • skin irritation
  • numbness on any part of your body
  • blisters, reddened or darkened skin
  • breathing difficulty
  • excessive coughing

Most places of employment that have hazardous chemicals will also require the use of safety equipment, and insist on proper aid procedures in case of contact. If a spill occurs suddenly, what can you do to make sure you remain safe even though you may not have time to wear or put on the protective clothing needed?

  • If possible, evacuate the area immediately, and instruct others to do the same.
  • Never light a match, turn on a light, or plug anything into an outlet.
  • Wash the area immediately or submerge yourself in a pool of water or shower.
  • Cover your mouth and nose so you don’t inhale or ingest extra gasses or fumes.

The Occupational Health and Safety Group lists various types of chemicals and how a consumer and employee can protect themselves when contact with a chemical has happened. If you have been burned by a chemical at your place of employment, or someone you know who has been burned, disfigured or died as a result of unsafe work conditions that led to a chemical accident, it is best to seek the advice of an attorney who is renowned for handling personal injury cases.