Spills can occur at any time in almost any industry. When handled properly, they are merely an inconvenience, but when handled improperly, they can become dangerous. Every spill is different, so as we provide a general guideline for spill cleanups, it may not necessarily be the right solution for every spill.
To prepare for a hazardous spill, you should be familiar with the chemicals on-site and their toxicity, have procedures to handle the chemicals, and be sure your team has proper training and equipment in case of emergencies.
Know the Hazards
With any laboratory work, it is vital to be familiar with the chemicals present and to know the potential consequences if they are spilled. The company should also outline a general procedure on how to handle a spill if one occurs and share this with everyone using the facility. When determining the hazardous results from chemicals, keep in mind the most important chemical reactions: flammability, reactivity to air or water, corrosion, or high toxicity.
Write Procedures in Case of Spills
Each laboratory should create a list of steps to implement when there is a spill on-site. In the guidelines, make sure to mention steps that need to be taken when a spill happens, employee responsibilities, instructions for spill equipment, and communication tactics. These guidelines should be communicated to all workers and anyone involved in the handling of these chemicals. Some other helpful information to include in the guidelines would be appropriate laboratory clothing, cleanup materials, and evacuation areas.
Materials and Equipment Should Be Available
Every time you plan to work with chemicals, make sure all the proper equipment and materials are accessible and in good condition. Everyone working with the chemicals should be educated on how to use materials and safety equipment. Lastly, inspect the equipment frequently to make sure everything is working properly. If needed, the last thing you want is for something to not be functioning properly.
Spills can occur during the storage, transportation, or use of any chemical. Make sure the storage of the chemical is secure; shelves should be sturdy and not wobbly. Chemicals should be stored together based on their toxicity. Do not store any chemicals close to the edge of shelves or pack them too tightly to try to optimize space. During transportation, use carts to transport chemicals instead of having workers carry them. Chemicals should be strapped in and handled properly by knowledgeable staff. Other helpful tips include eliminating clutter and trip hazards and making sure all participants are proceeding carefully.
Steps for When a Spill Occurs
The first and most important step for when a spill occurs is to tell someone immediately, even if it’s a minor spill and does not seem urgent. Everyone should move away from the area. If the spill does not spread quickly or will not harm anyone in the area or the environment, you may be able to clean up the spill yourself. Be sure to still notify someone of the spill and use proper equipment on-site. However, if the spill is dangerous, do not attempt to clean it yourself. To properly clean up a spill, try and stop vapors, dust, or liquids from spreading and dispose of the waste immediately.
Seeking Outside Help
The best and most effective way to handle any spill is to rely on professionals. Clean Management has trained professionals throughout the country who can handle any hazardous or nonhazardous spill. Contact Clean Management today to find out more about the services we offer or to get a quote for free!