31 Jan 2014
Sulfuric acid is an acid that is used in industrial practices across the country for various purposes everyday. It can be used for etching and cleaning of metals, production of petroleum products, production of fertilizers, production of dyes, and the production of explosives. Sulfuric acid, like any other acid, is extremely reactive and an explosive chemical reaction is guaranteed to occur if it comes in contact with another type of material while you are working. Obviously, this is where you need to have knowledge in sulfuric acid safety to ensure that no accidents happen that involve explosive reactions. Simply put, if sulfuric acid somehow comes in contact with ANY part of your body, you will experience an accelerated and swift destruction of bodily tissues. This rapid destruction could very well cause severe burns that would leave you scarred for life, both physically and emotionally. Not only are burns a problem in themselves, but they can later lead to extended issues such as infections and prolonged recovery. Don’t risk it! Know your sulfuric acid safety before ever working with sulfuric acid in the workplace, we’ll help!
Sulfuric acid needs to be considered dangerous no matter what state it is in. If it is being moved in large, bulk quantities, it should be considered at “full strength” and is extremely dangerous to your health. Avoid contact with “full strength” sulfuric acid at all costs! Even when sulfuric acid is used as a cleaning agent, which means it’s probably diluted, you still need to treat it as an extremely dangerous acid. When the acid is concentrated, it will not only disintegrate your outside layer of skin, but it will puncture through the skin and ravage the flesh underneath. This will not only result in almost unfathomable pain, but it could also lead to blacking out, shock, or another typical reaction when one is severely burned with an acid. Like we mentioned before, even diluted sulfuric acid will cause skin irritation or dermatitis if it comes in contact with your skin. Also, if you breathe in the mists and vapors of the acid for an extended period of time, you could develop a respiratory disorder over time.
For starters, you will need to know how to properly protect yourself when working with sulfuric acid. Considering it can burn through clothes, erode concrete, and etch metal, imagine what it will do to your skin and flesh. Or even worse, imagine what a single drop or two would do to your sensitive eyes. Eye and face protection are absolutely imperative when working with sulfuric acid. Safety glasses alone will not suffice. You will need a face shield and chemical-type goggles. Chemical-type goggles have indirect vents. Your protective clothing should include a long apron and gloves that are both acid resistant. If you are working with sulfuric acid in highly concentrated and dangerous quantities, you need to be wearing high-top boots and an acid resistant “rain suit.” These rain suits must have the pant leg that extends over the top of the boot for full protection. You do not want ANY skin exposed when working with the acid.
If a worker is unfortunate enough to actually come in contact with the acid, swift action MUST be taken IMMEDIATELY. Quickly wash the acid off of the body and get to the hospital or the nearest hose as soon as humanly possible. Time is of essence when sulfuric acid is on the skin, or worse, underneath the skin. Once you start washing, do not stop until you have removed all clothing that has acid on it. Never stop the water, it should keep flowing until the emergency is over. If there is a severe burn involved, the victim may experience shock. If this is the case, keep the victim warm and lay them on their back. Medical help should have been called as soon as it was realized someone was exposed to the acid. While you wait for medics to arrive, do NOT apply any oils, ointments, or any other treatments to the affected area.
If someone is unlucky enough to actually swallow the acid, listen closely to the following! Do NOT try to make the affected individual throw up or vomit. The acid has already burned the person’s throat on the way down, vomiting would only burn their throat again on the way back up. If the victim becomes unconscious, do NOT try to give them anything. However, if the victim IS conscious, IMMEDIATELY dilute the acid. Ideally, you want to give the affected individual milk mixed with egg whites. If that is not available, give them as much water as they can possibly drink. Remember, time is of essence, so if someone swallows sulfuric acid, they should almost immediately be drinking milk or water, and they should not stop until they simply cannot drink anymore.
Sulfuric acid is one of the most dangerous and destructive chemicals you will experience in the workplace. It should be treated as such, and preventative measures such as wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and face and eye protection is absolutely essential to preventing a catastrophe. Work with your site safety program to implement effective prevention and treatment practices and know what you need to do to practice better sulfuric acid safety while you are working. The consequences are simply not worth not being lazy and ignoring sulfuric acid safety precautions. Anyone who has been exposed to sulfuric acid would strongly testify to this.
29 Jan 2014
It shouldn’t be a surprise that forklifts were not designed to lift people and workers to perform tasks at elevated heights. However, it has become a trend in the construction industry for workers to use forklifts to lift up personnel to reach top storage racks, light fixtures, elevated motors, or other tasks and items that would normally be out of reach while standing on the ground. Workers see this as a quicker alternative than going to the storage closet and getting a ladder and it has become an all too common practice on job sites across the country. Just because using forklifts to elevate personnel is seen as the quickest way to accomplish a specific task, does not mean that it is the safest way. Too many injuries occur each year involving workers and other personnel falling off of forklifts while it was being raised, or while it was standing still and the employee was performing the work. Forklift safety is something that needs to be taken more seriously in the workplace for a number of reasons, but in this article we will focus on the elevated personnel problem. If you want additional information on forklift safety in general, you can read our Forklift Safety Training article.
Since it has become apparent that it would not be possible to completely eliminate this problem, regulatory committees and other interested parties have developed a “safe” method for workers to use forklifts for elevation. Keep in mind that we are not encouraging forklifts to be used to elevate personnel, but if it is deemed absolutely necessary and will be the most effective way to complete the job, then you must adhere to the following guidelines before performing the work.
- There must be a work platform firmly and securely attached to the lifting carriage. The platform must have guardrails or something else that will serve the same basic function of preventing workers from falling off the edge of the platform.
- The forklift need to be designed so that, in the event of an emergency or system failure, the lifting mechanism will not drop faster than 135 feet per minute. This means the hydraulic system will need to be engineered the right way.
- When workers are on the platform, there must be an operator manning the lift equipment while the workers are performing the job. NEVER leave a forklift with workers on the platform unattended. This operator also needs to be certified in forklift safety.
- When raising and lowering the platform, the operator must be in the correct operating position.
- If the platform has been raised to a height higher than 4 feet, then the forklift must not move. If you absolutely, positively have to move the forklift while it is above 4 feet, inch the forklift along at the slowest possible speed. Going any faster could cause workers on the platform to lose their balance and fall off the edge. This obviously leads to consequences that you do not want.
- When working on the platform, workers have the potential to come in contact with shear points like chains. There must be some type of guard in the area between workers and the mast to prevent this type of contact from happening.
Again, it is understandable that workers want to use the quickest and most efficient way to complete a job or task, but if you completely disregard safety in the process, the time you think you’re saving employing unsafe forklift practices will turn into time spent at the hospital recovering. Make sure you follow the above guidelines in this article whenever you are using forklifts to raise personnel in the workplace and you will be much safer.
Your half mask respirator is one of the most important pieces of equipment you will ever use. It protects you from breathing in airborne particles and contaminants that could possibly harm or even kill you. There should already be a respiratory program established at the job site or workplace you work at, and the company you work for should be responsible for enforcing it, along with providing you with the correct type of respirator relative to the amount of exposure you will be experiencing. However, it is your shared responsibility to make sure that your respiratory equipment is functioning properly and is protecting you from any contaminants and particles you are expected to encounter. To help you with this, we’ve put together this half mask respirator care guide to assist you in the proper care of your respiratory equipment. Remember, you can neglect these guidelines all you want, the only person you are endangering is yourself.
Here are five main points you want to be aware of when maintaining and caring for your respirator.
- Check the disposable filter cartridges. Usually, they will contain some type of a chemical absorbent to trap particles and contaminants. If, at any time, you start to experience difficulty breathing while wearing the respirator, replace the filter cartridge IMMEDIATELY. If you start to taste or smell the particles and contaminants in the air through your mask, you will also want to change your filter cartridge IMMEDIATELY. Failure to do this will have you breathing in the very contaminants and particles that your respirator was designed to protect you against.
- Thoroughly and carefully inspect your respirator often. We strongly suggest you do this on a daily basis or before each use. When inspecting, check the elastic band to make sure it has not lost any of its elasticity and if it has any frays, tears, or loose strands. Also be sure to inspect the cartridge housing for any cracks and the cartridge threads to make sure they are not damaged or stripped. The face piece should be inspected for any holes, cuts, or tears and the exhaust valves should be inspected to make sure they are not damaged or sticking in any way.
- Clean your respirator regularly and after each and every use. A majority of the time this will include disinfecting, washing, rinsing, and drying. If you ever have a question or doubt about the process, just refer to the manufacturer’s suggestions. A lot of face pieces can simply be washed with warm water, but it is also acceptable to disinfect your face piece with germicidal detergent or a disinfectant cleaner. All rinsing should be done with water and air drying is recommended. Drying with a towel or with heat could possibly damage to the respirator, so try to avoid that.
- You may not think of this, but how you store your respirator is important too. Any exposure to sunlight, heat, dust, or vapor contaminants should be avoided. Storing your respirator in a sealed plastic bag will usually do the trick. However, make a note to not smash, cram, or force the respirator into any tight or awkward positions. If you do this, your respirator could possibly get warped permanently and will affect how well it fits. A poorly fitted respirator will not give you the full protection you need.
- Make it a habit to do a “fit check” to ensure that your seal is good. You can do this by placing your hand over the exhalation valve, covering it, and exhaling gently into the face piece. If you notice any air leaking out, notify the administrator of your respirator program immediately. You will need to fix it or get a completely new one.
It should be no secret that half mask respirator care is important. Without a properly functioning respirator, you have no barriers between you and the particles and contaminants that could severely harm you, or worse, kill you. It’s not worth it to be lazy and fail to regularly inspect your respiratory equipment. Make it a habit to inspect your respirator before and after each use and also on a daily basis. The quality of the rest of your life depends on it.