While having chemical handling and chemical storage protocols in place helps to prevent leaks and spills, it’s also important to have guidelines in place in case accidents do occur. Doing so reduces the response time and ensures the damage to your business is as minimal as possible. To help you implement a chemical spill response plan, we’ve compiled a list of recommended actions to secure your workplace.
1. Alert & Evacuate
The first thing to do upon becoming aware of a chemical spill is alert the relevant personnel. Let your co-workers and anyone else in the facility know immediately, and if the spill is severe begin the evacuation process. If it’s a major spill, evacuate immediately and let the surrounding businesses and authorities know.
In the unfortunate circumstance that a co-worker is injured, approach and remove them from the exposure area only if it’s safe to. If you can’t do this without exposing yourself to danger, it’s important to wait until emergency services arrive.
2. Secure the Space
Once vulnerable personnel have been removed from the scene, it’s time to secure the space. The first step is to prevent fire or explosions from occurring. Turn off any ignition and heat sources and ensure that equipment such as Bunsen Burners are not used until the spill is contained.
If possible, secure any other substances that could react with the spill in a segregated chemical storage area. Unless you’re in an area with lots of passers-by, ventilate the room and open any windows to prevent a toxic build-up of fumes.
3. Confine the Chemicals
To prevent further damage to your business or to the environment it’s also important to confine the spill. Before approaching the spill, put on PPE (personnel protective equipment). Use absorbent socks and booms to try to confine the chemical spill to as minimal an area as possible. Cover any drains in the area with drain seals, to prevent the substance from washing away and harming your plumbing or the local area. If there is a containment barrier in the area, make sure it has activated to keep the chemicals from spreading to other areas and rooms.
4. Clean Up
After you have the chemical spill contained, use absorbent pillows and mats to soak up the spilled chemical. Any damaged containers can be placed temporarily on spill decks or spill trays in your chemical storage area. Otherwise, remain wearing the personal protective equipment. Collect any contaminated materials and place in a clearly labelled chemical waste container. If the spilled chemicals are in powder form, sweep carefully or use moist absorbent pads to clean the area. Another option is to dampen the powder with a suitable solvent and then wipe clean. Once you have the spill cleaned, wash away any residue with clean water.