A chemical burn can be caused by a large spillage or splash-back when pouring liquids. The burns are caused by anything that is cytotoxic, for example, things that contain acids or alkali or industrial cleaning products. It does not have to be in liquid form; some toxic chemicals come in powder form. Begin treating a chemical burn by removing the source of the burn. Brush off any remaining powder or chemical before washing. Ensure you do this gently so as not to break the skin. Rinse the wound with cool running water for around 10 to 20 minutes to minimise blistering and to ease inflammation. Before this, you must remove any clothing or jewellery that has been affected by the chemical. The burn can then be covered with a dry, sterile dressing or clean cloth if dressing is not available.
If the patient feels the pain and burning sensation increase after dressing, take the cover off and rewash for a few more minutes. Dress again and offer the patient some pain medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Phone for medical attention immediately if the burns are widespread. Seek medical help in any case of chemical burns as there is a chance of infection. If the person is in shock, has fainted, the burns appear to have penetrated the first layer of skin or the burn occurred in a place like the eye or over a major joint, you should call the emergency services immediately.
Chemical burns at work
If there is an abundance of dangerous chemicals in the place where you work, then there should be procedures in place for treating a chemical burn. For example, in a chemistry lab, there may be a working shower in place in case of any serious spillages. In a workplace where there are chemicals, even cleaning products, staff members in contact with them should be trained on the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations. This means that they will be trained to handle these products safely and without putting anyone else in danger. If there is a lack of training on ways to handle these substances, the risk of an accident occurring is increased.
Should you have suffered a chemical burn at work that was the fault of another member of staff or the fault of the company, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Accident Advice Helpline to speak to our sympathetic members of staff who will go through your case with you to determine how successful you are likely to be if you make a claim.