Imagine, if you will, that you are a manager at a Buffalo Wild Wings. Your employee started to clean up in the back but refused to continue because the cleaning product was starting to bubble and change colors. You know that’s not good but, well, it can’t just sit there. The job’s got to get done. You start to push what’s left of this failed chemistry experiment down the drain. Then, the lights go out. For good.

This might sound like some sort of Twilight Zone episode, but it actually happened in Burlington, Massachusettes. The way it turns out, earlier in the day, someone spilled Skale Clean- an acid based cleaning liquid- and didn’t clean it up properly.  Later the employees were moping the floor with Super-8 which is a bleach based cleaner.   The liquid began to turn green and bubble and gave off a terrible smell. Unbeknownst to anyone in the restaurant, if you mix Skale Clean and Super 8-the bleach cleaner used to mop the floor- you create Chlorine gas. If you don’t know much about chlorine gas, you may find it interesting to know it was used during trench warfare in WWI. When chlorine gas enters your system it reacts with the water in your lungs creating hydrochloric acid. This painful way to go was quickly banned from warfare, but that doesn’t mean it went away forever. Mixing any form of chlorine and acid can create the deadly gas. Mixing the wrong chemical cocktail can end your cleaning session in a hurry.

Take a lesson from the victims. Be careful with what you mix. I know, “It won’t happen to me. I’m not dumb. I’m a professional. I don’t mix chemicals, let alone household chemicals.” I’ve seen it all on Facebook. That’s where I found the story originally. People were barking up a storm how it could never happen to them. Hear me out. Mixing chemicals isn’t just mixing them in a bucket. And just because it doesn’t make chlorine gas, doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous.

If we can learn anything from this story it’s that mixing chemicals can happen just from cross exposure on a surface. It could even be minor. But it still builds up. Say your employee is cleaning a bathtub. He’s using a citric acid based cleaner like Comet Bathroom Cleaner. The hardwater is just not coming off. He decides to use a different acid based product to give it some extra kick. Maybe he adds another. All of a sudden you have an extremely powerful acid on your hands. The exponential growth of this acidity should not be understated. He may not get hurt by it, but he’s doing a serious number on that bathroom. Now, without realizing it, you’re liable for damages that you didn’t even think could happen.

Everything aside, I think we need to take this as a sign to make sure your employees are educated. Make sure they are alert and make sure they’re safe. It can happen to anyone given the right circumstances. For more articles like this, subscribe to our Newsletter.