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A number of important safety precautions should be taken when working with sulfuric acid. Those working with or near it should wear adequate personal protection, make sure the chemical is well-controlled, and observe all facility protocols to limit exposure. This chemical is corrosive and reactive, and can generate irritating fumes when heated. Full sulfuric acid safety includes personal precautions, facilities equipped to handle it, and appropriate monitoring to keep the work environment safe.
Individuals working around sulfuric acid need to wear protective clothing, boots, and headgear. This can include goggles and a face shield to prevent splashbacks. The chemical should be used in an area with dedicated ventilation. If appropriate, and if someone have received training, a respirator can be worn to limit the chances of inhaling fumes. For sulfuric acid safety, it is important to regularly check personal equipment and make sure it is readily available for workers.
Within the facility itself, approved containers should be stored in accessible locations so people can use them appropriately. Vents and hoods need to be in good working order, with a functional system to draw fumes away. Cabinets, benches, and other furniture in the facility should also be maintained to keep the environment safe and reduce the risk of accidents. In addition, eyewashing stations and showers should be provided and regularly serviced so they will be available if someone is exposed to sulfuric acid.
In the event someone is splashed with sulfuric acid, the location of contact should be washed with ample water, flushing the chemical away, while someone else calls for help. Eye contact should be followed with a thorough rinsing for at least 15 minutes. Contact lenses shouldn’t be worn by people working around sulfuric acid, but if someone was wearing them, they should be removed while the eyes are washed. Sulfuric acid safety in inhalation cases involves moving the victim to an area with fresh air, supporting the person in a partially upright position, and calling for assistance.
Facilities with a comprehensive sulfuric acid safety protocol should have clearly marked containers for the chemical, with areas to note the dilution for the benefit of technicians. A spill protocol can include directions for prompt and safe cleanup, using equipment that should be readily accessible. It is also important to dispose of it safely, using an authorized method, to reduce the risk that people will be exposed to discarded chemicals. This includes careful disposal control to confirm that the chemical isn’t accidentally mixed with something it may react with, like a strong base or a flammable chemical. These reactions can be aggressive and may endanger personnel in the area if sulfuric acid safety recommendations are not followed.