We are asking licence holders and security businesses to familiarise themselves with the available guidance on responding to acid attacks. This is in response to recent acid attacks against members of the public, and a very small number of such attacks against licence holders.
An acid attack involves a corrosive substance being thrown or sprayed on a person or people as part of a violent attack or robbery. Although 'acid attack' is the phrase most people use to refer to such incidents, they can involve acidic, alkaline or caustic chemicals. Household cleaners, drain un-blockers and industrial chemicals might all be used by perpetrators.
NHS England and the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) have issued first aid guidance on how to ensure victims of acid attacks get the right help fast. They are asking people to remember the 3 R's:
- Report the attack: dial 999
- Remove contaminated clothing carefully
- Rinse skin immediately with running water
NHS Choices has also issued more detailed guidance for the public on how to treat acid and chemical burns.
Employers and venue owners should be aware of their responsibility to conduct risk assessments associated with acid attacks and plan for how to respond to them subject to the Health and Safety Act 1974 as well as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. This includes supplying appropriate equipment for responding to an acid attack. We cannot recommend individual equipment items, but you may want to consider the following equipment which is carried in Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) vehicles for police officers to use.
- 1 x high density recycled plastic box with seal - the MPS use this to hold their equipment safely in transit or in situ.
- 2 x chemical resistant gloves - basic latex gloves will only provide a short (20-30 seconds) of protection against a corrosive substance. For longer term use, laboratory suppliers sell thicker, purpose-built gloves.
- 2 x anti-fog, chemical-resistant goggles - these can also be sourced using websites that provide safety equipment for laboratories.
- 1 x 5ltr water bottle - this is the minimum amount to be used on a victim, there is no maximum, and is enough for 10 minutes of constant dousing of water.
- 2 x bottle shower caps to control the rate of water pouring from a bottle. These essentially turn a bottle of water into a shower and you can find these online under the title “bottle shower head".
- 2 x good quality scissors capable of cutting through clothing - these are the sort of scissors you can find in larger first aids kits and being used by paramedics. They often go by names like tough cut scissors, tuff cut scissors or paramedic shears.
- 4 x face shields recommended by the Health and Safety Executive - these can be purchased from reputable chemical suppliers.
The police, fire brigade and ambulance service will bring their own, more specialised equipment when they respond to an acid attack.
Getting bottles or jugs of tap water from the bar might be the quickest and easiest method to do the 'Rinse' of the 3 R's in a licensed premise like a pub or nightclub.
We will update the above information when further guidance on how to prevent and respond to an acid attack becomes available.