Hazardous spills pose a serious threat to humans, property, and the environment. Every workplace must have the right response system in place to properly deal with chemical, biological, or radiological spills.
A good response system involves providing proper training to all workers in the facility and giving them access to the right equipment and resources to deal with the problem immediately.
Keep in mind, however, that the goal of every response strategy is to keep all personnel protected. Containing and cleaning up the spill should be a secondary concern that is best left to professionals who can handle the incident properly. Here’s how to respond to an emergency:
1. Assess the situation
When a spill occurs, the first step is to evaluate the risk of the spill. Workers may be able to do this right away, or they may need to do some investigating. Understanding the extent of the risks helps you decide which subsequent steps to take.
2. Take care of minor spills
For minor spills, trained personnel wearing proper protective equipment may be able to take care of the problem by using spill kits and plugging the source of the spilled liquid. It is important, however, that only workers with training in handling hazardous materials should be allowed to handle the spill.
3. Evacuate the area
Enviro Care Inc. notes that if it is a major spill, you should ask all personnel to evacuate the area immediately. Workers must have access to safety showers and eyewash stations for decontamination. If hazardous fumes are involved, have personnel remove all contaminated clothing for further inspection.
4. Contain the spill
If possible, confine the spill to the immediate area to keep it from spreading. If there are people contaminated by the spill, keep them in isolation until proper decontamination has been completed. Close off drains to keep contaminants from spilling out into the environment.
When a spill occurs, it’s important to stay calm and contact an emergency hazmat response service right away. Be as helpful as possible by providing as much information as you can, including the location of the spill, the type and quantity of the hazardous material, and the number of persons injured (if there’s any).