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Open Access Research article

Factors associated with chemical burns in Zhejiang province, China: An epidemiological study

Yuan H Zhang1, Chun M Han2*, Guo X Chen2, Chun J Ye1, Rui M Jiang1, Li P Liu1 and Liang F Ni1

Author Affiliations

1 Zhejiang Quhua Hospital, No. 62, Wenchang Road, Quhua District, Quzhou, Zhejiang Province, 324004, China

2 the Second Affiliated Hosptial, Zhejiang University College of Medicine, No. 88, Jiefang Road, Hangzhou, Zhejinang, 310009,China

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:746  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-746

Published: 30 September 2011

Abstract

Background

Work-related burns are common among occupational injuries. Zhejiang Province is an industrial area with a high incidence of chemical burns. We aimed to survey epidemiological features of chemical burns in Zhejiang province to determine associated factors and acquire data for developing a strategy to prevent and treat chemical burns.

Methods

Questionnaires were developed, reviewed and validated by experts, and sent to 25 hospitals in Zhejiang province to prospectively collect data of 492 chemical burn patients admitted during one year from Sept. 1, 2008 to Aug. 31, 2009. Questions included victims' characteristics and general condition, injury location, causes of accident, causative chemicals, total body surface area burn, concomitant injuries, employee safety training, and awareness level of protective measures. Surveys were completed for each of burn patients by burn department personnel who interviewed the hospitalized patients.

Results

In this study, 417 victims (87.61%) got chemical burn at work, of which 355 victims (74.58%) worked in private or individual enterprises. Most frequent chemicals involved were hydrofluoric acid and sulfuric acid. Main causes of chemical injury accidents were inappropriate operation of equipment or handling of chemicals and absence of or failure to use effective individual protection.

Conclusions

Most chemical burns are preventable occupational injuries that can be attributed to inappropriate operation of equipment or handling of chemicals, lack of employee awareness about appropriate action and lack of effective protective equipment and training. Emphasis on safety education and protection for workers may help protect workers and prevent chemical burns.

Keywords:
Burn prevention; burn treatment; chemical burn; epidemiology; occupational injury