Chemical burns can happen very quickly on the job, and they can have a lasting impact on a worker’s health and wellness moving forward. Not only are burns painful, but they can lead to scarring and lasting disfigurements that may impact a person’s ability to work in the future.
Because of these ramifications and the quick severity of such an injury, it’s important to know what to do to offer first aid on the scene. Experts note that proper medical care is exceedingly important. The authorities should be called, especially for severe cases, and injured workers need to see a doctor. Even so, action taken before the authorities arrive can also help, so it’s wise to know how to proceed.
Four simple steps
To get an idea of what to do — again, on top of calling for emergency medical services — here are the four main steps laid out by the prestigious Mayo Clinic, one of the best health care centers in the country:
- Wash the skin and/or flush the chemical to remove the cause and stop the burn. Cool running water should be used, and the skin should be rinsed for 10 minutes at a minimum. Dry chemicals can be brushed away, as well.
- If the chemical has gotten onto clothing, jewelry or a work uniform, the contaminated articles should be removed. They can cause further burning and skin damage.
- The burned area should be bandaged with sterile gauze. Cotton should not be used. Pressure isn’t needed, as there is no bleeding to stop, so the wrap can be loose.
- If the burning sensation continues, the area can be unwrapped and flushed repeatedly. This will also happen at the medical center.
As you can see, the biggest thing is to get the skin as clean as possible. This may not instantly stop the discomfort, but it can keep the burn from spreading and therefore limit damage.
Even so, injured workers could have a long road to recovery ahead of them. With serious burn injuries, those workers must understand all of the legal options at their disposal.