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Severe alkali burns from beer line cleaners warrant mandatory safety guidelines

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To the Editor: Chemical burns from alkaline cleaning chemicals in the workplace can cause some of the most devastating and blinding ocular injuries, as noted by Samarawickrama and colleagues.1 Protection from alkalis is particularly important as these compounds are capable of deep penetration, especially in the cornea, and tissue destruction continues long after the initial exposure.2

The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cwlth) requires anyone with a duty for ensuring health and safety to eliminate health and safety risks so far as is reasonably practicable.3 Where elimination of hazards is not possible, personal protective equipment (PPE) forms the last line of defence. The risk of splashes from very hazardous chemicals necessitates a full face shield, gloves, protective clothing and boots.4

Hotel owners and beer and chemical manufacturers should educate workers about the hazards of beer line cleaning chemicals and appropriate procedures to minimise the risk of injury. Education on risks, safety procedures, PPE and first aid remains critical for successful injury prevention strategies.5 Young and inexperienced workers should be a focus of education, as they are at higher risk of ocular injury due to…