From: Ernest Lippert <ernielippert**At_Symbol_Here**TOAST.NET>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Table topping student chemical exposures
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2017 23:14:20 -0400
I have two incidents involving hydrofluoric acid that have some bearing on the hypotheticals posed by James Saccardo. These happened in a small analytical laboratory setting 20-30 years ago where I was responsible for safety. Because we used concentrated HF, I worked with the local hospital administration so that they were prepared for the possibility of HF burns. In the first incident, an experienced chemist wearing a laboratory apron and eye protection was using HF in a well-established procedure. For some unknown reason, a quantity of HF splashed on the shoulder of her blouse. She immediately went to the restroom, with the help of a co-worker removed her blouse, and washed the affected area. Calcium gluconate ointment was immediately applied. With her wearing my shirt, I drove the three of us to the local hospital where it was determined that the first aid treatment we had given had been effective and she was released with the advice to return if pain returned.
Ten years later the same woman retrieved a small, unopened box containing four bottles of HF that had just been delivered. When she got to the laboratory area, she noticed that her lab coat was wet at waist level and that her slacks were wet. Again, first aid was administered followed by my driving her to the hospital. This time the burns on her thigh required treatment with calcium gluconate injections and a hospital stay.
Investigation showed that the box had been penetrated by a nail that pierced one of the bottles just above liquid level. She tipped the box while carrying it in such a way to permit the acid to leak into the box (there was no protective packing). This soaked her lab coat and slacks.
Several things happened as a result. The carrier was notified, the truck stopped, and examined for possible contamination. None was found. In the cargo area, a protruding nail was found as the apparent cause of the penetration. The supplier changed the way HF was packaged. The laboratory policy on moving items was changed to require the use of a cart.
In response to the hypotheticals posed, I suggest that it is mandatory that the student be taken to the hospital and seen by a medical professional. Not doing this opens a possibility for possible legal action charging negligence, etc. Transport by ambulance in the non-life threatening situations described is unnecessary.
From: "James Saccardo" <James.Saccardo**At_Symbol_Here**CSI.CUNY.EDU>
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Sent: Monday, July 10, 2017 5:47 PM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Table topping student chemical exposures
Greetings all – I hope that everyone is enjoying the summer time. I am looking to tap into the collective wisdom of the DCHAS list serv.
Table topping student chemical exposures
Sending chemically exposed students to the hospital –
- (hypothetical) A student gets splashed with some concentrated sulfuric acid while wearing gloves, goggles and a lab coat. There is some on their cheek and chin and it burns, they are immediately taken to the eye wash and the areas are flushed for 15 minutes, it still burns and is slightly red. After another 15 minutes of flushing the student still feels slight discomfort.
- Do you worry about scarring on the face and do you mention it to the exposed individual?
- Do you send them to the emergency room by ambulance?
- (hypothetical) A student splashes some nitric acid on their thighs and it has wetted their jeans, in a short time it becomes itchy and burns, the student goes to the bathroom and removes the contaminated clothing and decontaminates the sink with wet paper towels. The jeans are washed in the sink and are abraded where the acid made contact. The student is fine and wants to return to work but has no clothing for their legs.. Do you:
- Issue a Tyvek suit and allow them to return to work?
- Send them to the ER by ambulance?
- Call their emergency contact and ask them to come and pick them up?
If anyone has some insight or a written document that they use in very minor chemical exposure incidents, where students are not sent to a hospital emergency room, I’d be interested in knowing what you do.
James Saccardo, CHMM
The College of Staten Island
Office of Environmental Health and Safety
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
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