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An industrial spill can seem like your worst nightmare when it happens, but the truth is they happen every day. What’s most important is knowing how to respond to them.
5 important steps to take after a spill
Step 1: Prevention
Technically, this more of a spill precaution than a spill response, but it will help to inform what you do once a spill has occurred. The best way to respond to a chemical spill is not to have anything to respond to in the first place. Spill response training means your staff members will be ready to react to an incident.
Follow proper chemical spillage procedures for storing, handling, transferring, and disposal. Site workers must be trained to spot hazards and react accordingly. Distribute MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) documents to each person for their relevant chemicals, as well.
Make sure everyone knows where their relevant spill kit can be located in the event of an emergency. The more prepared you all are, the quicker everyone can resolve the spill safely.
Step 2: Communication
When a spill occurs, immediately notify everyone working in the area. Then, bring the matter to the relevant supervisory personnel. Work quickly to gauge how serious the spill is and, if the situation calls for it, evacuate the area.
Next, make sure to call 911 and any emergency services, if necessary. Use the emergency procedures you put in place in step one to react appropriately. When communicating with emergency services, it’s a good idea to have an onsite expert onhand remain to help and to answer any questions.
Step 3: Controlling The Spill
Next, take whatever safe measures you can to ensure the spill does not spread or get worse. Close valves, straighten containers and lock off any sealable rooms to prevent it getting out.
Make sure you work with the appropriate PPE, as well, so that the biohazard does not affect you while you’re trying to keep it at bay. From respiratory protection to simple face masks, now is not the time to neglect your safety.
Step 4: Containment
Now, we’ve already mentioned stopping the spill from getting out. What comes next is containing the hazard itself. Take steps to prevent the spill from contaminating workspace surfaces. Start distributing absorbant or neutralizing materials to help keep workspaces clean.
Block off floor drains and other sensitive areas. It may seem silly, but you may need to build a dam to block off hazardous material or find ways to redirect it.
Make sure to mark off the area with caution tape so that nobody stumbles into it by mistake.
Step 5: Cleaning Up
Once you’ve contained the spill and made sure everybody is safe, it’s time for chemical spill cleanup. Start by collecting any and all material used to contain the spill and disposing of it in the recommended manner.
Then, the hazardous spill itself. If the waste is suitably dangerous, it should go without saying that you should call in the help of a professional. Never take any risks when it comes to your own health and safety.
Oftentimes, these spills are actually small and harmless enough to be disposed of with a plastic bag, no harm, no foul. Larger spills, however, may require a plastic drum or something similar.
Make sure to dispose of any equipment that may be contaminated, after you are done. Brooms and dustpans and the like. Label any disposed-of materials according to your local environmental regulations.
Industrial Spill Procedures
Congratulations! With a little planning and a lot of quick thinking, you’ve just managed an industrial spill. Containment, communication and responsible cleaning are the three Cs during a spill. Keep your head and you’ll do just fine.