A corrosive chemical is one that causes visible destruction or irreversible alterations of living tissue by chemical action at the site of contact. They can be in solid, liquid or gaseous form and act on body tissues by direct contact, inhalation or ingestion. Corrosives can be categorized as strong acid, strong base, dehydrating agent, oxidizing agent, or water-reactive. Corrosive liquids are responsible for most corrosive-based injuries. Corrosive gases are the most serious because they can be readily absorbed into the body by dissolution with skin moisture and by inhalation.
- Eye protection and gloves should always be worn when handling corrosive materials. A faceshield, rubber apron, and rubber boots may also be appropriate; depending upon work performed (check safety data sheet for personal protective equipment requirements).
- Always add acid to water. Dehydrating agents such as sulfuric acid, sodium hydroxide, phosphorus pentoxide, and calcium oxide should be mixed with water by adding the agent to water to avoid violent reaction and splattering.
- An eyewash and safety shower must be readily accessible to areas where corrosives are used and stored as specified in OSHA 1910.151(c). In the event of skin or eye contact with corrosives, immediately flush the area of contact with cool water for 15 minutes and remove all affected clothing. Get medical help immediately.
- Strong oxidizing agents such as chromic and perchloric acids should be stored and used in glass or other inert containers (preferably unbreakable); corks and rubber stoppers should not be used.
- Safety rubber bottle carriers or non-breakable bottles (PVC-coated) should be used for the transport of strong acids and bases from one location to another.
- Containers and equipment used for storage should be corrosion resistant.
- Acids and bases should be stored separately. Strong oxidizing acids should be stored separately from other acids and bases.