If it isn’t one thing, it’s another, when working on a job site that is fraught with various hazards.
For people whose job it is to work with dangerous chemicals, one of the worst ones to handle is sodium hydroxide. The reason for this is that it is known to be one of the strongest and most corrosive alkalines, most commonly referred to as lye or caustic soda.
While the substance may look harmless and is odorless, it is highly reactive. Its signature is its ability to form an exothermic solution with water which creates heat. The resulting heat may have the potential to ignite any materials within its proximity. If this isn’t bad enough, caustic soda’s reaction with other metals produces hydrogen gas that ignites in the presence of oxygen. To say that working with this chemical is dangerous is a major understatement.
It’s not hard to find this compound in just about any manufacturing plant as it is commonly used in multiple industrial processes. One would no doubt recognize that lye is used in making soaps, detergents and cleaning agents. It is also used to process cotton and in the making of rayon and cellophane, all common objects found in many American households. It’s also used to process petroleum and natural gas, make pulp and paper, is used in textile processing, water treatment, the making of glass, creating adhesives, processing aluminum, degreasing metals, and vegetable oil refining. Its very versatility makes it a popular, but deadly chemical to use.
Ask any scientist that works with chemicals knows about sodium hydroxide, so get ready for a long litany about how deadly this chemical can be and how it must be handled with extreme caution. Inhaling it causes a lung injury called pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs). Side effects include coughing, a tight chest and difficulty breathing.
If this compound comes into contact with exposed skin it results in scarring, ulcerations and severe burning as the chemical keeps eating through layers of skin until it is washed off. If prompt action isn’t taken, the severity of the resulting injury increases exponentially. There are other debilitating damages a worker may sustain while working with lye, but the greatest concern is the consequences of long-term exposure to this deadly chemical.
For workers who feel they have sustained a permanent injury from working in the presence of lye, contact an attorney with experience with workplace injuries, hazardous substances and workers’ compensation law. The case will be discussed in detail in order to determine how to proceed to file for damages. Don’t wait until it’s too late to file a claim. Justice delayed is justice denied.
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