If someone were to spill a drink — or any kind of liquid — at dinner or around the house, you could imagine the chaos and difficulty that follows. Not only does the actual spill have to be cleaned up, but so do any other items or clothes that may have come into contact with the spilled liquid.
If this is dealing with spills at home sounds difficult, imagine, then, dealing with a spill in an industrial plant. Not only are the liquids involved possibly toxic, but the equipment and machines around the place could malfunction as a result of the spillage, plus there is the matter of the number of workers who might slip on the spill or have their workday disrupted as a result.
This is why emergency spills are typically classified as safety hazards in industrial workplaces by safety authorities, and why they need to be dealt with as effectively as possible. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with emergency spills in your workplace:
How to respond to an emergency spill
Although major spills are usually classified as those involving spillage of 50 gallons or more, even a small spill may be lethal in some circumstances. Hence, it is important to respond quickly upon spotting the spill. If the spill is still in progress, it is crucial to contain it as quickly as possible. This may involve patching up any leaks that you may find and using absorbent materials to stop the spill from spreading.
Once the spill has been contained, it is recommended to isolate the area where the spillage is with cones in and identify the liquid spilled as soon as possible. In order to be safe, it is also best to implement safety protocol wherein only those wearing protective safety equipment be allowed in the spill zone. Once this is accomplished, it is safe to proceed to cleaning up the spill.
How to clean up an emergency spill
When dealing with hazardous chemicals regularly at work, safety protocol usually mandates that spill cleanup and absorbent kits be readily available onsite. Depending on the chemicals involved, these kits typically contain absorbent packets and ammonia solutions that are used to disinfect the site. Absorbent kits should also come with the necessary safety equipment such as gloves, masks, scoops, and towels.
Once the spilled liquid has been cleaned up, it is important to sweep up any debris caused by the spill and to properly dispose of this. Lastly, it is best to document the entire procedure to evaluate and possibly improve the effectiveness of your response.
How to prevent another emergency spill
Of course, the best way to deal with a spill is to prevent one from ever occurring in the first place. First, this involves making sure liquids are stored properly, typically in a large Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC). These are made out of durable materials that would rarely — if ever — be found with holes or leaks in them. To truly prevent an emergency spill from resulting, it is best to keep the containment spill pallet away from shelves that they can fall off from, or from any kind of clutter that might knock it over and spill the contents.
To add even more safety measures, it is recommended to install floor mats around the storage area that will absorb any liquid and prevent it from touching the floor surface. This will help prevent any slipping accidents from occurring, thus ensuring that even with a spillage, your workplace will be as safe as can be.