What are corrosive chemicals?

Corrosive materials (sometimes referred to as caustics) are substances that will, through a chemical reaction, damage or destroy other substances on contact. In general, corrosives are either acids or bases:

Acids: Hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrofluoric acid, acetic acid, chromic acid, etc.

Bases: Ammonium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, etc.

Even though corrosives can be found in virtually every workplace, their potential to attack and destroy anything from human tissue to metals make them an extremely hazardous to employees. The stronger or more concentrated a corrosive substance is, the more dangerous it can be to human health.

Keeping Employees Safe around Corrosive Materials

Corrosive chemicals can pose serious risk to human health. Workplaces dealing with caustic materials will need to consider the following hazard controls and preventative measures:

Accidental spills or leaks of corrosive fluids should be promptly contained, but OSHA's hazardous waste operations must be followed in the event of a large spill of a corrosive chemical.


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