Your company should have a safety plan that addresses chemical spill containment and what should be done in the event of a spill. Your plan should reflect the information in the chemical’s MSDS. Also, be sure you have the correct personal protection equipment, or PPE, and spill control materials handy. All employees should be thoroughly trained on what to do in case of a chemical spill in their work area.
Include a list of everyone who needs to be contacted, based on the nature of the spill. Ensure that your plan gives clear and specific guidance on whether evacuations will be necessary and where employees should go. It should also give detailed instructions on proper containment, cleanup, and disposal of spilled materials and equipment as well as how to safely decontaminate the surfaces where the spill occurred.
There are four critical steps to spill containment.
You should immediately communicate the hazard to others working in the area as well as any supervisory personnel. Evacuate the area, if needed. Call 911 or follow your company’s established emergency procedures. You’ll need to be able to tell the dispatcher which material was spilled and the quantity so that first responders will be ready to address the situation. If anyone has been injured or contaminated, remove them from the immediate area and flush contaminated areas with water while waiting on medical personnel.
You want to take precautions to make sure the spill doesn’t become any worse. If you can stop it or minimize it, take those actions, such as closing a valve or righting a tipped over container. Instruct workers to immediately put on the appropriate PPE. If it’s possible, shut down any potential sources of heat or ignition. If you can safely disperse any fumes, increase ventilation to that area. If the fumes present a hazard, it’s better to isolate the area by evacuating workers and closing doors and windows.
Now that the immediate situation has been addressed, you can take steps to keep the spill form spreading to other areas. Typically, this involves using some type of absorbent material or neutralizer. You’ll want to spread this material around the perimeter of the spill and work your way toward the center.
You should also take care to prevent the spill from spreading to floor drains or other areas where the spill can get into environmentally sensitive areas. Block or redirect the spill if you can or use a spill sock.
It’s also important that you block access with caution tape to ensure no one else can encounter the material.
Once the spill has been controlled and contained, it’s time to clean up. You’ll need to collect the material used to contain or neutralize the spill and dispose of it in the correct manner. You may even need to dispose of any equipment used to contain the spill, such as brooms or mops. If it’s hazardous material, label it correctly and dispose of it according to local and environmental laws and regulations.
Take care to wash your hands, clothing, and any other areas that have had contact with the materials. If you can’t safely clean your clothes, be sure to dispose of them following proper safety procedures.