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Maritime employees at high risk for chemical burn injuries

| Oct 19, 2020 | Maritime Law |

For many people all around the world, working aboard a ship is a dream come true. Whether they do so as public servants or for private entities, the challenge of navigating the sea and the opportunity to travel remains a call they cannot ignore. Yet, there are risks involved. One that often catches maritime employees by surprise is the risk of chemical burns.

According to a U.S. News article, chemical burns and exposure to hazardous chemicals are among the most common injuries that maritime employees suffer from. The risks increase when one considers the unpredictable nature of maritime work as it relates to weather and potential mechanical issues.

3 main types of chemical burns

Just like with burns caused by fire, chemical burns become classified by how much damage they do. WebMD shares that burns may not only damage a person’s skin but also damage underlying tissue and organs.

First-degree burns

Also known as superficial burns, these are painful but the best-case scenario for burns. These burns affect the epidermis or the outer layer of the skin. While the skin may turn red and the person may suffer chronic pain for a time, the damage is not permanent.

Second-degree burns

Also known as partial-thickness burns, these burns enter the dermis, which is the second layer of the skin. The individual may suffer from swelling and blisters and scars are likely.

Third-degree burns

Also known as full-thickness burns, these burns cause damage to the underlying tissue. In some cases, the burns may destroy nerves in the skin, which may cause the person to feel no pain. The skin may also turn black or white.

Causes of chemical burns

Several different types of chemicals may cause damage to the skin. Some of these are even perfectly safe to use in small amounts but may cause damage in concentrated form. These are some common examples of hazardous materials:

  • Toilet bowl and drain cleaners
  • Pool chlorinators
  • Metal cleaners
  • Battery acid
  • Ammonia
  • Bleach

When maritime employees suffer chemical burns, medical attention becomes necessary. Failure to act quickly may cause the chemicals to remain on the skin and do further damage.