Apart from the obvious answer – very carefully – the inexperienced should quickly acquaint themselves with the COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations from the Health & Safety Executive. There they will find the hierarchy of options, the first being the elimination of the nasty with something far blander. At bibra toxicology advice & consulting, we are experts in assessing the hazards of substances (e.g. for classification purposes). Once the hazard of the substance has been determined, ReAgent (in their guest blog below), explain below what needs to be considered if such a substitution (as mentioned above) is not feasible, and the measure that companies need to take to safely handle the (e.g. corrosive) substance.

 

Understanding How to Handle Corrosive Liquids

There are various control measures that will reduce or eliminate the risk of the corrosive potential having real work place consequences.

1. Risk of inhalation

Clearly only a major problem if the handled material is volatile, therefore establish confidently whether it is or isn’t as volatility dictates fume extraction, either a totally enclosed system, or the handling of the corrosive within a fume extraction booth. Even if the liquid isn’t volatile, you will still need to consider and supply other means of protection against inhalation especially if there’s insufficient ventilation. There are various grades of respirators available depending on nature of the material, for example half-face respirators, full-face respirators, and full breathing apparatus which provides a fresh air supply.

2. Risk of skin contact

When handling any type of corrosive liquid, suitable overalls should be worn. Suitability criteria includes a degree of splash resistance that allows enough time for the clothing to be removed before the liquid migrates through to the skin. The specification of the gloves should also receive attention, most importantly the breakthrough time (how long it is likely to take your specific chemical to permeate through them). This will also be affected by the glove’s life span – remember that gloves weaken with wear. And of course, don’t forget the footwear. Safety footwear is a must, with a check that the uppers and soles of the shoes or boots are made of suitably resistant material.

3. Eye protection

Should always be worn, but the degree of the corrosiveness will dictate the choice of safety glasses, safety goggles or a full face visor. It’s always best to check the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) of the chemical you’re handling, as it will tell you what type of eye protection to wear.

Storing corrosive liquids

Safe storage is influenced by the quantity you are storing, and only small volumes of corrosive liquids should be kept inside – while you don’t want a large container of corrosive liquid bursting at all, it would be preferable if it does happen that it occurs in the open air. It’s also necessary to segregate corrosive liquids from incompatible materials by a safe distance of at least three metres wherever it’s stored, and all storage areas should be signed with a corrosive symbol.

Corrosive liquids should also have secondary containment in case of a spillage. A bund or a sump will provide this extra protection.

Procedures for Handling Corrosive Liquids

Knowledge of these very necessary procedures need to be widely disseminated, and general operating procedures for handling corrosive chemicals are required. Those handling the chemicals need this information in a written format, it should be displayed on the label, and it must be accompanied by a material safety data sheet. First aid control is also essential. Eye wash stations, safety showers, and chemical first aid kits containing treatment for burns, as well as first aiders on site who can treat burns are highly recommended.

 

This guest blog was written by ReAgent; a leading UK chemical manufacturing company, who, like us, have decades of experience in their industry.

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