It always notes on chemical safety data sheets to wash or flush eye with water most for at least 15 minutes. STOP THE BUS do you have enough clean water on site to flush for 15 plus minutes that a lot of water based upon the flow rate under OH&S requirement’s. So in a nice clean office or warehouse maybe, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FIELD OR SITE LOCATIONS?
HENCE THE HUGE REASON BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT IN THE FIELD ON READING THE FULL SAFETY DATA SHEET AND HAVING THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT IN THE EVENT OF A BOO-BOO!
If a chemical splashes into your eye, take these steps immediately.
- Flush your eye with water. Use clean, lukewarm tap water for at least 20 minutes. …
- Wash your hands with soap and water. Thoroughly rinse your hands to be sure no chemical or soap is left on them.
- Remove contact lenses.
- Don’t rub the eye — this may cause further damage.
- Don’t put anything except water or contact lens saline rinse in the eye. And don’t use eyedrops unless emergency personnel tell you to do so.
GHS chemical risk assessment at it finest starts here!
Most standard sources recommend that water rinsing/flushing following skin or eye contact with a chemical should continue for 15 or 20 minutes. However, all chemicals do not cause the same degree of effects (some are non-irritants while others can cause severe corrosive injury). At the present time, there is insufficient scientific evidence available to properly address the question of how long flushing should continue. However, it makes sense to tailor the duration of flushing to the known effects of the chemical or product, as follows:
- 5-minutes for non-irritants or mild irritants,
- 15-20 minutes for moderate to severe irritants and chemicals that cause acute toxicity if absorbed through the skin,
- 30 minutes for most corrosives, and
- 60 minutes for strong alkalis (e.g. sodium, potassium or calcium hydroxide).
It is very important that water flushing start immediately following skin or eye contact with a chemical. It is better if complete water flushing occurs on-site. However, moving the victim to an emergency care facility earlier may be necessary depending on the victim’s condition (e.g. compromised airways, breathing or circulation) and/or the availability of a suitable water supply. If it is necessary to transport the victim before completing flushing on-site, flushing should continue during emergency transport, taking proper precautions to protect emergency services personnel.
Note that the manufacturer/supplier may also specify a cleansing agent (e.g. non-abrasive soap) if appropriate, or may recommend an alternative agent in exceptional cases if water is clearly inappropriate. The severity of a burn depends on what substance caused it, how long the substance had contact with the eye, and how the injury is treated. Damage is usually limited to the front segment of the eye, including the cornea, (the clear front surface of the eye responsible for good vision, which is most frequently affected), the conjunctiva (the layer covering the white part of the eye), and occasionally the internal eye structures of the eye.
Seek emergency medical assistance
After following the above steps, seek emergency care by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) or call 911 or your local emergency number. Take the chemical container or the name of the chemical with you to the emergency provider. If readily available, wear sunglasses to help reduce sensitivity to light.
The symptoms of a chemical burn depend on the substance splashed into the eyes, but may include:
- a burning sensation
- swelling of the eyelids
- blurry vision
Complications of chemical burns to the eye
Complications of severe chemical burns can include:
- corneal perforation – full thickness damage to the cornea, the clear surface of the eye
- corneal ulcer – superficial damage to the cornea
- cataracts – an abnormal clouding of the eye’s lens
- glaucoma – high eye pressure that damages the optic nerve.
First aid suggestions for chemical burns
Liquid or powder splashes from chemicals may seriously damage the eye. In many cases, prompt and thorough rinsing of the eye (with saline or fresh water), dramatically reduces the risk of injury and long-term damage. It is often better to go straight to the nearest tap than to wait for saline from the first aid kit.
Do not judge the seriousness of your eye injury on the degree of pain. For example, alkali chemicals don’t usually cause significant symptoms, but can seriously damage the eye.
Professional care for chemical burns to the eye may include:
- Irrigation – the doctor or ophthalmologist will first flush your eyes, even if you’ve already flushed them yourself. In most cases, prompt and thorough rinsing of the eye (with saline or fresh water) dramatically reduces the risk of injury and long-term damage.
- Full eye examination – this is to check for location the burn and the amount of damage.
- Diagnostic tests – may include a fluorescein evaluation, which involves the use of a special dye that colours damaged or dead eye tissue yellow-green when viewed under ultraviolet light.
- Follow-up examination – generally speaking, the full extent of the injury will not be known for about 24 hours after the accident.
Treatment for chemical burns
Treatment differs according to the chemical agent and the severity of the injury, but may include:
- pain-relieving medication
- topical antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection
- dedicated eye drops
- lubricants applied to the eye surface to prevent the eyelids from sticking to the cornea as it heals
- anti-inflammatory medication
- in mild cases, an eye patch is worn until the eye recovers
- in more serious cases, hospital admission is necessary and treatment is given for any complications.
Self-care after a chemical burn
Be guided by your doctor or healthcare professional, but general suggestions include:
- Don’t drive a vehicle while you are wearing an eye patch.
- Use medication strictly as directed.
- Attend all follow-up appointments.
- See your doctor or eye specialist straight away if you have new symptoms, such as eye pain, redness, photophobia (intolerance of light) or blurry vision.
Always wear eye protection
Estimates suggest that about 90 per cent of chemical burns to the eye are avoidable. Wear eye protection every time you handle liquid or powder chemicals. Prescription glasses or sunglasses do not provide reliable protection, because the loose fit allows liquids or powder to splash behind the frames.
Appropriate safety gear is the best way to reduce your risk of injury. Options depend on the job, but may include:
- Safety glasses– look similar to regular prescription glasses, but have shatter-resistant lenses, stronger frames and side shields. However, safety glasses do not seal against the face, which means liquids may splash or run into the eyes. Safety glasses may be an option if the risk of splash is low or if the liquid is non-toxic.
- Safety goggles– are made from smash-resistant materials and seal against the face. Some styles of safety goggles are large enough to be worn over the top of prescription glasses.
- Face shields– offer maximum protection against splash injury. In some cases, safety goggles are also worn. Face shields are recommended when handling dangerous chemicals, such as corrosive liquids or powders, cryogenic fluids or biological materials.