When it comes to cleaning up chemical spills, we’ve outlined handling the spill in nine simple steps, as follows:
- Evaluate the risk: Immediately after a spill occur you will want to ask yourself a few questions that will determine your actions in the next steps. First, identify the liquid. Is it dangerous to breathe? Is it flammable? Where is it spilling from? How big is the spill? If you cannot determine an answer to these questions, check the chemical safety data sheet.
- Stay or go?: Based on your answers to the previous questions, you will need to decide if you should stay and handle the spill yourself or to get you and your workers out of there. As a general rule of thumb, workers in the vicinity will be able to handle small spills if the chemicals do not pose a huge risk. If the situation warrants otherwise however, everyone should evacuate immediately and call 911.
- Alert everyone: Be sure to let all personnel whether or not they need to stay clear of the spill or evacuate the facility.
- Put on PPE: The PPE provided in a spill kit or stored nearby should be donned before addressing the spill. When in doubt of what PPE to wear, check the Safety Data Sheet and always go for a higher level of protection.
- Confine the spill: Cover floor drains and ensure the spill doesn’t spread by confining the spill with absorbent socks.
- Stop the spill: Identify the source of the spill and if you can, stop it. This may involve capping an opening, setting a container upright, or stopping the flow of a pipe.
- Clean up the mess: Using the sorbents in your spill kit, it is time to soak up the spill! Use pillows, cloths, and socks to absorb the mess. Then place the used absorbents in a container for disposal. Finally, clean and decontaminate the facility, equipment, workers, and their clothing.
- File reports: Fill out necessary and required paperwork regarding the cause, resolution, and effect of the chemical spill (usually required by overseeing government authorities).
- Restock the spill kit: As your last step, simply order a spill kit to replace the one you just used!