What are chemical burns?

If you work with caustic chemicals on a regular basis, you're at risk of experiencing chemical burns. Chemical burns can be painful even if they're minor, but they can also cause serious injury in some cases, such as when a caustic chemical is inadvertently ingested. Healthline offers the following information on chemical burns so workers can take the proper steps to protect themselves. 

When chemical burns occur on the skin, they fall into different categories. Superficial burns affect the top layer of the skin, which is called the epidermis. The dermis is the second layer of the skin, and burns to this area are known as partial-thickness or dermal injuries. The most serious type of chemical burns affects the subcutaneous tissue, which is the third layer of skin. This is also known as a full-thickness injury. 

In terms of symptoms, these can vary based on the severity and the type of chemical burn. When the chemical makes contact with the skin, you might experience pain, redness, and irritation. Skin can also take on a blackened appearance, which occurs when the skin is dead or dying. Along with pain, you may also experience a feeling of numbness in the area affected. When a chemical is ingested, symptoms are often a lot more severe. Some people will experience shortness of breath, heart attack, seizures, and coughing, among many other symptoms. 

It's crucial for both employers and workers to take the proper steps to prevent chemical burns from occurring in the first place. Workers must have access to proper protective equipment when handling or transporting potentially dangerous chemicals. Chemicals must also be stored properly in approved containers to prevent leaks and spills. Dangerous chemicals should also be clearly labeled to so workers can take the proper precautions.

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