Imagine what damage corrosive materials that can destroy metals do when they come into contact with human skin, lungs or eyes. Although corrosives are more prevalent in some industries, they are also present in manufacturing, laboratories and even in kitchens. The wide use makes it crucial for workers in all industries in California to learn about corrosives and how to prevent potential injuries.
What are corrosives?
Corrosives could cause the chemical destruction of body tissue with which it comes into contact. However, with the necessary knowledge and precautions, they can be used safely. The following information is essential for workers who might have to work with corrosives:
- Corrosives can be acids or alkaline and sometimes as added ingredients in other products.
- Acid corrosives commonly used include nitric acid, acetic acid, sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid.
- Alkaline corrosives or bases commonly used include sodium hydroxide, aka caustic soda, potassium hydroxide and ammonium hydroxide.
- Compounds and bases include caustic compounds like lime in cement.
Essential safety precautions when working with corrosives
Although appropriate personal safety equipment is vital, the following precautions are equally necessary:
- Always read the information on the Safety Data Sheet instead of relying on memory.
- The SDS indicates the corrosive content and how to use the product safely.
- The data sheet and the product label on the container typically include health effects and other warnings.
- Do not store corrosives near incompatible materials.
- Ensure the containers used for storing corrosives are suitable.
- Never use, handle or store corrosives in inadequately ventilated areas.
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health requires employers to provide safe work environments and provide the necessary safety training to protect the health and safety of employees. However, workers who suffer health damages or physical injuries while working with corrosives might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages.