HR Management & Compliance

Does Your Training Need to Get Corrosive?

Are your workers in danger from corrosive chemicals? If so, today’s Advisor gives you the training information you need to give them so that they can protect themselves.

Here are some examples of industries and employees who are exposed to corrosives and their hazards:

  • Workers in a water treatment facility complain of bloody noses caused by constant exposure to sulfuric acid mist.
  • Workers handling batteries notice their teeth corroding from exposure to battery acid.
  • Workers overhauling helicopters are exposed to corrosive—and carcinogenic—hexavalent chromium fumes.


Who needs to be trained? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard requires you to train employees to work safely with the hazardous chemicals in their work area when they’re initially assigned to that area and when a new hazard is introduced. Workers can be trained in categories of hazardous chemicals, such as corrosives.
Why train workers on handling corrosives safely? Workers may know that corrosive chemicals pose a danger to their skin, but they may be less aware that these chemicals pose a threat of internal damage or of reactivity.

What is the most effective and cost-efficient way to provide safety training for your workforce? Try a demo of BLR’s remarkable TrainingToday® at no cost or obligation.

Basic training

Instructions to trainer: Although it is acceptable to train workers on categories of chemical hazards, make sure to have on hand the safety data sheet (SDS) and required protective gear for any specific corrosives workers need to be aware of.
You may know that corrosive materials can be hazardous to your skin and eyes, but are you aware that they are also highly reactive when they come in contact with certain substances? Or that they can be extremely hazardous inside your body, also?
The category of “corrosive chemicals” includes:

  • Acids, like hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid; and
  • Alkalis, like potassium and sodium hydroxide, which are also called “bases” or “caustics.”

Exposure routes

You may be exposed to corrosives through:

  • Inhalation. Breathing even small amounts of corrosive mists or fumes can cause nose, mouth, and throat irritation, and larger amounts can cause bronchitis or severe lung damage.
  • Ingestion. Most people would not intentionally swallow a corrosive liquid, but there have been instances—some fatal—when workers accidentally did so.
  • Eye contact. Splashing or spraying corrosives, or corrosive mists, can cause eye damage. Bases are particularly dangerous to the eyes.
  • Skin contact. Corrosive liquids or mists can cause contact dermatitis, burns, or blisters.

Chemical properties

Besides their health hazards, corrosives are highly reactive. They can cause fires, explosions, or violent exothermic (heat-releasing) reactions (these often look like an explosion) if they come in contact with water or other chemicals or with combustible materials.
Keep in mind that:

  • Acids react with many metals to release hydrogen, a highly flammable gas that can ignite in air.
  • Some acids are strong oxidizing agents (chemicals that support combustion by releasing oxygen) and can react violently when they come in contact with organic or other oxidizable materials.
  • Alkaline chemicals can be strongly reactive. Alkali solids in particular react violently to contact with water; this is why sodium metal is stored in oil.

Try a demo of BLR’s remarkable award-winning TrainingToday® at no cost or obligation. This includes the Workplace Safety Library. Get the details.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll look at best practices and emergency first-aid training instructions.

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