This is a reminder that cleanup procedures for chemical spills depend on the size of the spill and the risks. Make sure employees understand cleanup rules.
Even small spills of highly toxic or flammable substances can be hazardous. Large spills can cause serious injuries to employees and damage to your facility as well as to have an environmental impact.
Cleanup should begin as soon as possible after a spill has been detected, contained, and evaluated.
You may authorize employees in the work area to clean up small spills if the following conditions are met:
- The identity of the chemical is known and employees are authorized to work with it
- The MSDS indicates only minor hazards
- The spill is less than about 4 liters (approximately 1 quart)
- A neutralization or absorption spill kit is available
- Employees have the PPE required by the MSDS for cleanup
- Employees know how to dispose of spilled materials and have a proper disposal container
Larger, more hazardous spills are generally too much for most employees to handle. In those cases, you have to call in your spill response team.
The spill response team is required whenever:
- The spill involves an unknown chemical or mixture of chemicals
- The spill involves a known material that the MSDS indicates is highly toxic, highly corrosive, flammable, reactive, or radioactive
- The spill is in a public area and could spread to other areas
- Workers are unsure of the proper cleanup methods
- In most cases, the spill is larger than 4 liters
In the event of a major spill, employees other than the spill response team should evacuate the area, remove any contaminated clothing or PPE, and only return to the area when told it is safe to do so. Any employees who have had an unprotected exposure should have a medical evaluation.