More than 400 acid or corrosive substance attacks were carried out in the six months up to April 2017, according to figures from 39 forces in England and Wales.
According to the Home Office, bleach, ammonia and acid were the most commonly used substances.
The Government has unveiled proposals to ensure acid and other corrosive substances can be classed as dangerous weapons and those carrying out attacks could face longer sentences.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd warned that an overhaul of current guidelines would ensure those who use harmful liquids as a weapon "feel the full force of the law".
"I am clear that life sentences must not be reserved for acid attack survivors" she wrote in the Sunday Times.
This is part of new strategy to clampdown on acid attacks following a recent epidemic of high-profile incidents, including five assaults that were linked in London on Thursday.
Reducing the Risk
WORKPLACE has always been mindful of the substances our cleaning Operatives use on site which is why we are constantly reviewing our stock lists to ensure the safest and most environmentally friendly products are used wherever possible.
We have been working hard with our suppliers to ensure many of the products we use are specially formulated to have a minimal impact on our Operatives health & the environment. This includes manufacturers complying with ISO accreditations and EU regulations.
We presently use the Selden V-Mix range of cleaning products, which cover general commercial cleaning, and polishing requirements, hand washing, toilet and washroom cleaning, washing and degreasing duties. All comply with current EU regulations and WEIR, (the Wright Environmental Impact Rating), which assesses the overall environmental impact.
All these products have been in use on client sites for several years, but we continually assess the market place and trial new products which may further reduce our health & environmental impacts without affecting the quality of cleaning standards.
At the beginning of 2017 we removed all products containing bleach from every single site in the Thames Valley. This decision was well received by both our Clients and staff.
Following on from the success of these products withdrawal, WORKPLACE continue to remove bleach based products from ALL locations by the end of November.
Limiting the Use of Acid Based Products
We currently only use one product (in a limited number of sites) which contains phosphorous acid. This is a heavily diluted product that is used to descale toilets and urinals. Our COSHH assessment sheets clearly highlights that this product cannot be used if the Operatives has not received the correct training to do so.
Training recommends that safety goggles and protective gloves must be worn when using the product as it can cause skin irritation.
Operations Director, Martin Wells, stresses the importance of handling the product correctly during his induction training, “when opening any product, staff are encouraged to face it away from their body to eliminate any residue splashing onto their face.”
“However, If the product does come into contact with the skin or eyes it should be rinsed thoroughly with water and medical attention should be obtained.” he says.
Tool Box Training
A refresher of our Personal Safety training is currently being delivered to staff in our more high-risk locations, and all staff are being actively encouraged to carry bottled water with them where possible.
We have shared these tips from the London Ambulance Service with our staff in the hope that, with the correct information, they will be able to protect themselves and others around them if they are in the proximity of someone who has suffered a chemical burn.
Remove the chemical while protecting yourself. Wear gloves or use a towel.
Remove contaminated clothing or jewellery to prevent further burning.
Rinse the burn immediately with a gentle steady stream of cool tap water for 10 minutes or more. You must protect your eyes when washing acid off your skin.
Loosely apply a dry bandage, gauze or clean cotton clothing.
You should seek emergency care if:
The person is showing signs of shock (fainting, pale or shallow breathing).
The chemical has burnt through the first layer of skin and blisters have formed
The burn covers an area more than three inches in diameter and if the burn goes all the way round a limb or involves the eyes, hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks or a major joint like the knee or elbow.
Helping or getting help as soon as possible is essential because acid burns can cause physical and mental distress to people for the rest of their lives.