Dealing With Aggressive Chemical Spills in The Workplace
Aggressive chemical spills can be a major hazard for Australian businesses. They can pose a risk to life, the environment and your business operations. If your staff are working with them in their daily tasks, it can be a significant concern. Managing this concern can be a delicate task in risk avoidance and preparation. It can be much safer to have the necessary processes and correct chemical storage systems already in place to prevent spills. Yet, mistakes can’t always be avoided. Being prepared can mean staff know what to do if something happens—knowing what to do when spills happen can save equipment and lives.
Adequate procedures, staff training and appropriate spill kits are important when dealing with aggressive chemical spills. Ecospill offers training in spill response to equip your staff in these circumstances.
Steps to Manage Aggressive Chemical Spills
Below is a guide to managing aggressive chemical spills in a workplace.
Communicating the incident to everyone that should know is an important first step. This includes people in the area and people that may pass through the site. Supervisors and health and safety staff should also be made aware. Loud and clear verbal communication and signage indicating the area of spillage can help isolate the hazard. Depending on the situation, you may need to evacuate the area and call emergency services.
Someone may come in contact with the chemical or been injured by the spill. If this happens, it’s crucial to remove them from the area and take them to a safe place.
Check chemical information
After communicating the situation, you can check the MSDS documentation of the spilt chemical. This document will contain important information about the health and safety hazards of the chemical.
The MSDS documentation information can describe the best method of containing the spill and the hazards that the chemical poses. For example, if someone has come in contact with the spilt substance, the MSDS can explain how to treat them.
Contain the spill
You should now use an appropriate spill kit to contain the spill. Spill kits include the right equipment to clean up the chemical efficiently. They’re effective in minimising the damage to people, the environment and the building. Depending on the chemical type, containing the spill usually involves confining the spill area. Your spill kit should include a containment boom or land sock. These are specifically used to secure the perimeter and contain the spill.
Without protecting the perimeter, the liquid can spread around the workplace and cause a larger hazard area. The chemical can also enter drains which could allow the liquid to flow into environmentally sensitive areas. This could create a significant environmental problem.
Clean the spill
After containing the spill area, it’s time to clean the spill. Use the correct equipment from your spill kit to absorb and clean the spilt chemical. Aggressive chemical spills require absorbent mats of powders to absorb the liquid. Use an antistatic disposal bag to dispose of these absorbent materials safely. Please dispose of the bag with care as they hold the hazardous chemical within them.
As the chemical has been fully absorbed, the area should be free of liquid. You can now clean the area with an appropriate material, such as bleach or detergent. An effective clean up can save time and resources by getting your operations back on track.
Safety is essential when containing and cleaning up an aggressive chemical spill. The methods below can help keep you safe:
- Wear the correct Personal Protective Equipment. PPE can protect the person cleaning the spill.
- MSDS documentation can help advise on the health and safety approach of the chemical. The equipment used to contain the spill will depend on the chemical that has spilt, the size of the spill, and how dangerous the chemical is.
- Spill kits should include a step-by-step instruction guide on how to clean up spills safely.
An appropriate spill kit is important in ensuring safety. For example, Ecospill’s 50L Chemical Spill Kits contain the following:
- Absorbent mats
- A containment boom/land sock
- Chemsorb Hazchem absorbent powder
- PPE (including PVC gloves, safety glasses and disposable overalls)
- Antistatic waste disposal bags
- Instructions of use
Contact Ecospill to find out what spill kits would be most compatible with your business operations.