When we think of chemical hazards in a workplace we instantly think of industrial careers that revolve around the direct use of these chemicals. However, chemicals exist in many workplaces, and in all of these many settings there are huge consequences if the chemicals are not managed efficiently.
Burning of Skin and Eyes
Chemical burns are not as uncommon as you may think. They can result from any strong acids or chemicals that come in contact with the skin or eyes and cause a burn that sinks deeper into the tissue.
While this is common in careers that work directly with chemicals, it can often happen in any place of business if the cleaning products chosen to clean the area are not used correctly. For example, if a janitor uses rust remover in a section of the office and does not soak it up well, and an accountant comes in the next day and rubs against this cleaner, the acids in the cleaner may end up burning the skin or eyes of this accountant.
It is a business’ responsibility to use cleaners that pose as little harm as possible, and to be sure that the cleaning process is efficient and safe. It is also the responsibility of the business to be sure to mark a place of potential chemical hazard with signs in order to warn of the risk.
Breathing in chemicals from the air is one of the most common forms of exposure, and the side effects can be fatal. The chemicals that may be inhaled can appear in three different forms:
- Gas and Vapor: This can happen in many different ways. One very common way is simply through evaporation. Many chemicals will evaporate at a much faster rate than water, and therefore they become a gas through the evaporation and can be inhaled at a rapid pace without the person even recognizing it.
- Dust: Many times dust will settle on the ground and can be swept up. However, if there is a lot of activity, the dust may hang in the air as a potential inhalation hazard. One example of a dust inhalation hazard is the removal of asbestos without proper equipment or ventilation, which can cause mesothelioma.
- Smoke: While this type of inhalation is much more noticeable than that of gas or dust, the result can still be fatal. In these situations, the chemicals enter the air in the form of smoke through burning materials. Depending on the size of the particles, they may either settle somewhere or remain airborne.
Chemical fires are much more common in places of chemical storage and utilization such as an actual chemical plant, and the effects of these fires can be disastrous. In 2010, six people were killed and more than 50 were injured in a fire of this type in Middletown, Connecticut. After investigation, it was discovered that this fatal fire was caused by flammable gas that was not properly contained.
Though there will always be fire hazards involved when working with chemicals, there are precautions companies should take in order to lessen the chances, and if these measures are not even attempted, the company can be held responsible for the injuries that result from this. Some of these hazards might be:
- Know every chemical that you allow in the premises and ensure that two never combine that should not.
- Store all chemicals, both liquid and powder, properly in accordance to OSHA procedures.
- Provide protective equipment to every worker who may come in contact with the chemicals.
- Do not store any ignition sources near the chemicals in times other than those when the heating of a chemical is intentional.
Help from an Indiana Personal Injury Lawyer
If you experienced a personal injury due to chemicals in the workplace, you could be entitled to compensation. Call Hensley Legal Group today for a free consultation or contact us online.