• Posted by: Nick

Chemical Spills & Your Environmental Obligations

If a chemical spill takes place at your workplace, chemicals can enter the environment. Therefore, businesses have an obligation to carry out various preventative measures. This is to avoid contamination of the air, soil or groundwater.

We understand that it can be complex to find out about these environmental obligations. And also, to understand what they mean for your business. In this article, we’ll be sharing some background info on this with you.

Got grey areas surrounding your environmental responsibilities when it comes to chemical spills? Then, this is the article for you.

KNOWING YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL OBLIGATIONS

Developing sound handling procedures for chemicals in your workplace will help prevent spills. But in the case of a chemical spill, a business must deal with the spill in an appropriate manner.

Most business’s environmental obligations and chemical spill responses are the same. Though specifics vary from state to state and country to country. The protocol for the safe cleaning up and disposing of chemicals is standard.

Below are a few areas of your environmental responsibilities worth noting.

GENERAL SPILL MANAGEMENT

Effective management of chemical spills in the workplace is essential. It reduces the number of pollutants that end up in the soil, water and air.

Clean a chemical spill that takes place in the workplace right away. The Department of the Environment and Conservation provide the guidelines for appropriate disposal. This is for the disposal of the chemical itself. And also, for any contaminated water and other waste materials used in the clean-up.

Chemical spills can happen in storage or through handling. These spills can result in leaks, fires, explosions and the release of toxic vapours. Spills range from small scale to large scale and the in-depth procedures for each differ.

LIMITED INCIDENTS

Limited incidents refer to small scale chemical spills. These types of spills are small enough for on-site personnel to be able to deal with.

As a business, you must develop and put in place a response plan. This plan needs reviewing and updating, as required. Provide regular and ongoing spill response training to staff. Additionally, adequate spill kit supplies are to be accessible and well maintained.

Spills should be immediately contained. Once cleaned up, dispose of the clean-up waste. If you use water for the clean-up, it must not enter any stormwater drains or watercourses. In the case of rain, protect spills from water runoff. This runoff can compromise the effectiveness of the clean-up.

SIGNIFICANT INCIDENTS

Significant incidents refer to large-scale emergencies. These are usually unmanageable by on-site personnel alone. Significant incidents may need emergency services to help deal with the spill.

Your environmental obligation requires you to have an emergency management plan in place. Review and update as needed.

It is important to have designated individuals to oversee the emergency management plan. And also, to carry out emergency drills to ensure staff are confident with their responsibilities. Emergency response equipment needs to be available and in working order.

Your workspace must allow for enough space to provide access to emergency services. And also, it needs to allow for the containment of contaminated firewater on-site. Premises consisting of bulk storage need a current spill prevention plan and countermeasure plan in effect. This includes having sandbags and tarpaulins in place to block stormwater drains.

HOW TO ACCESS YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL OBLIGATIONS INFORMATION

As mentioned, your environmental obligations can vary from one place to another. The specifics are usually found on your government website. The Department of Environment and Conservation can assist with this.

You can find an example here.

Staying on top of these environmental obligations can be tricky. However, working with experts in spill kits and response training can take the stress out of it.

FINAL WORDS

We hope this article has shed some light on your environmental responsibilities. Having sound plans in place for the prevention and management of spills is key.

Are you equipped to handle your business’s environmental obligations? Furthermore, are your staff adequately trained?

If you feel like your business needs help getting on top of this, we are here to help. You can check out our spill kit supplies and spill kit training opportunities on our website. Otherwise, please contact us for more information or to see how we can help you.