Chemicals are used in near every industry in the United States and when handled appropriately, workers are safe. But spills, leaks, and explosions can result in exposure which could cause a serious chemical burn.
What Chemicals Can Cause A Chemical Burn?
Most Americans are surprised to learn that commonly used products can cause a chemical burn. Exposure to the following commonly cause chemical burns at work:
When a worker is employed in an industry where stronger chemicals are used, such as metalworking, the strength of the substances being used is much more likely to cause a serious burn if exposure occurs.
Chemical Burns Must Be Treated Immediately
When a worker in any industry is exposed to a chemical there are steps that they should immediately take to prevent the damage from spreading. This includes:
- Removing all jewelry.
- Removing any clothing that the chemical touched.
- Speaking with a supervisor or employer about the right way to remove the chemical from the skin. Remember, some chemicals will do more damage if exposed to water and should be removed from the body with other substances.
- Seek medical care immediately.
Signs that a worker may have a chemical burn include:
- Skin irritation and redness
- Gray or blacken skin
- Burning sensation
If chemical exposure involves the eyes or the chemical is inhaled, a worker may also experience:
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of vision
- Burning in the throat and lungs
Chemical burns can be very dangerous because it’s not always obvious that deep tissue has been damaged, even if the burn is in just a small area. This is why it’s so important to seek medical care immediately if it is suspected that a worker has sustained a chemical burn, especially if discomfort is felt in the nose, mouth, throat, or eyes.
How Do Doctors Treat Chemical Burns?
The treatments for a chemical burn depends on both the location and the severity of the burn. While some burns are easily treated with topical medications and heal quickly, others can result in months spent in intensive care in a burn unit. A chemical burn can also cause severe enough damage that a patient requires the amputation of a limb. It’s not uncommon for a patient to be permanently disfigured at the burn location.
In addition to physical damage, the accident that caused the chemical burn can cause psychological damage and patients may suffer from flashbacks, PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
The medical care required to treat these burns can be exceedingly expensive even with health insurance, putting a serious financial strain on an injured employee.
Employers Should Provide Extensive Training To Employees Working With Chemicals
Whenever an employee is going to be working with chemicals their employer should provide them with careful training to lower the chance that exposure will occur. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), information about each chemical in the workplace should be easily available and understandable to workers.
If needed, safety gear such as glasses, goggles, gloves, and respiratory devices need to be provided to employees who will come into contact with hazardous chemicals. This safety gear should be checked regularly for defects or wear so that it can be replaced when needed.
Chemical storage containers should always be clearly marked with the name of the chemical and the correct storage information. For example, many chemicals should not be stored near any sort of heating element or the result could be an explosion. Noting the correct temperatures at which a chemical should be stored is part of keeping employees informed and safe.
Those have sustained a chemical burn have the right to seek compensation through workers’ comp. Contact our workers’ comp lawyers to learn more about the process of filing a claim or to begin the appeals process if your claim has been denied.