As the world is making rapid advancements in the field of industrialization, there are huge chemicals plants – dealing with all kinds of chemicals.
Some of these chemical plants deal with seemingly simple (non-hazardous) chemicals, while, some other chemicals could be dealing with hazardous materials.
Risks associated with chemicals and chemical industries include:
- Risks due to blast of certain equipments involved in large chemical plants, e.g. boiler etc.
- Risks due to leakage of chemicals wherever they are stored/transported/used in small quantities etc.
Sometimes, seemingly harmless chemicals can also turn out to be hazardous, after they come in contact with other chemicals.
Depending upon the toxicity of the material involved, the most common kinds of problems that might be caused due to a chemical leak/plant accident might include:
- Blast and explosion
- Irritation to eyes, throats etc.
- Pollution and/or poisoning of air, water-bodies etc.
- Impact on vegetation and animals (including fishes in water-bodies)
- Difficulty in breathing etc.
- Heat and/or fire etc.
Usually, chemical plants employ certain bare minimum safety measures. The amount of safety measures employed by chemical plants is a function of:
- Risk and hazard associated with the specific chemical plants
- Local laws and regulations
- Vigilance level of local community
- Technical competence of the plant managers
- The company’s own standard of ethics –vs- short-term profitability decisions etc.
However, the places where there are practically no safety measures include:
- While transportation. More often than not, most truck drivers have no knowledge of what they might be carrying, the detailed chemical property of the material they are carrying, the reactivity of their cargo with other elements etc. Hence, if an untoward incident happens during the transportation of chemicals, there might not be anybody with a good knowledge of what is to be done.
- Places where the chemicals might be stored, e.g. trading godowns etc. Again, in such cases, it is quite likely that the traders dealing in these chemicals might not be aware of the reactivity of these chemicals with other agents.
Thus, if an accident involving chemicals occurs during transportation etc., its best to stay away – unless, you are very clear as to what is the material involved, and, its specific properties – as well as how to mitigate the situation.