Chemical spill! Stay and clean up, or call 911? Be ready to decide with these 9 steps on evaluating and cleaning up.
A toxic chemical spill can happen without warning, requiring fast evaluation and decisions by nearby workers. These 9 steps help employees and managers determine the risks. Evacuation may be necessary, but if not, mitigation and clean up should begin immediately.
In this podcast, Dan Clark details the procedure for ensuring worker safety, donning PPE, confining and stopping a spill, and decontamination.
intro music and effects
Dan Clark: Chemical spills are not all created equal. Ask yourself “What chemical is it? How big is the spill?” Then decide: Clean up, or bug out!
I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, tackling health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.
Toxic spill?! Let’s look at chemical spill cleanup in 9 steps.
Step 1. EVALUATE THE RISK. When a spill happens, ask yourself:
• What is this liquid?
• Is it dangerous to breathe?
• Is it flammable?
• Where is it spilling from?
• How big is the spill?
If you don’t know the answers, check the chemical safety data sheet.
Step 2. STAY OR GO? Based on the answers in #1, decide if you stay to handle the spill or get out of there. Generally, workers in the vicinity of the incident can handle small spills of materials that aren’t highly dangerous. If the situation warrants, though, evacuate and call 911.
Step 3. ALERT EVERYONE. Let all personnel know if they should evacuate, or stay clear of the area while you and your crew clean up.
Step 4. PUT ON PPE. Personal protective equipment may be in the company’s spill kit, or stored nearby. If you don’t know what to wear, read the safety data sheet. When in doubt, opt for more PPE—including respiratory protection.
Step 5. CONFINE THE SPILL. Protect floor drains using absorbent socks—those long tubes that absorb liquid. Of course, some chemicals cannot safely go down a drain. If they do, you could be killing wildlife and initiate a pile of fines. Socks from that spill kit should be placed around the edges of the spill to prevent it from spreading.
Step 6. STOP THE SPILL. If applicable, stop the spill at the source. This could involve capping an opening, setting a container upright, or stopping the flow of a pipe. If it’s really bad, you may need to stop the spill before you confine the spill.
Step 7. CLEAN UP THE MESS. Now, use the absorbents from your spill kit.
• The pillows, cloths and socks will soak it up.
• Place dirty absorbents in a container for disposal. And don’t forget to add the hazardous waste sticker to the container.
• Clean and decontaminate the facility, equipment, workers, and their clothing.
Step 8. FILE REPORTS. Fill out the necessary paperwork on the cause, resolution and effect of the chemical spill, as required by overseeing government authorities.
That’s all for this episode on Chemical Spill Cleanup In 9 Steps. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10% off your entire order at creativesafetysupply.com with coupon code SAFETYBRIEF. One word, SAFETYBRIEF.
OSHA info: Chemical Hazards and Toxic Substances
man image © ℗ 2015 Pixabay / Carlos Bonilla; toxic barrels © ℗ 2015 Photodune/Zelfit; containment image by Penn State University; spill kit © ℗ 2013 Getty Images/iStockphoto – Tracy Fox