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Hydrofluoric Acid (HF)

Index


   1. Introduction
   2. Precautions
   3. First-Aid
   4. Skin Contact
   5. Eye Contact
   6. Gassing
   7. Swallowing


Introduction

Hydrofluoric acid is highly corrosive and can cause severe burns to the eyes and skin. If hydrofluoric acid does come in contact with the skin you may not feel pain immediately but severe damage to the skin will have been done. hydrofluoric acid is also highly irritating to the respiratory system and is very toxic if swallowed.

This guidance is based on the HSE leaflet entitled "Hydrofluoric acid poisoning" and provides advice on the precautions to take when handling hydrofluoric acid and the first aid procedures to take in the event of a burn or poisoning.

Precautions

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH) apply to the use of hydrofluoric acid. A COSHH risk assessment should therefore be completed. Consider the use of safer alternatives. If there are no suitable alternatives, the assessment should detail appropriate precautions to be taken when using hydrofluoric acid, which include using a safe system of work. Persons using hydrofluoric acid should be given adequate information and training on the hazards to health posed by hydrofluoric acid, and the precautions to take to avoid them.

Users of hydrofluoric acid should:

  • always use appropriate PPE e.g. gloves which are resistant to hydrofluoric acid;
  • always wash gloves and other impervious clothing before removing them;
  • test gloves for pinholes by a method approved by the manufacturer and discarding gloves that are not sound;
  • always wash their hands when leaving the work area.

FIRST  AID

Urgent action is required.

  • Obtain immediate medical attention.
  • When giving first aid, protect yourself and the casualty from further exposure.
  • Casualty should be sent to hospital as soon as possible. In all cases the hospital should be informed of the cause of injury.

Skin Contact

  • Remove clothing while protecting your hands with suitable gloves
  • skin with plenty of water for at least 5-10 minutes;
  • Apply calcium gluconate gel on or around the affected area and continuously massage it into the skin until at least 15 minutes after the pain is relieved. Cover the area with a dressing soaked in the gel and lightly bandage. These procedures can be continued during transit to hospital;
  • Send to Accident and Emergency department of hospital as soon as possible.

Eye Contact

  • Flush eye with water for at least 20 minutes. This can be continued during transit to hospital;
  • Send to Accident and Emergency department of hospital or a eye hospital as soon as possible.

Gassing

  • Before entering contaminated room, first-aider should wear the necessary PPE for their own protection;
  • Remove casualty from contaminated air and place in fresh air;
  • If necessary, resuscitate the casualty;
  • If suitably trained, give oxygen;
  • Send to Accident and Emergency department of hospital as soon as possible.

Swallowing

  • Never induce vomiting;
  • If the casualty is conscious, rinse their mouth out with water;
  • Send to Accident and Emergency department of hospital as soon as possible.

Contact

Environmental Health and Safety Services contact details

University of St Andrews
Bute Building Queens Terrace
St Andrews
Fife
KY16 9TS
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 462750
Fax:44 (0)1334 462747