If a hazardous spill is discovered, employees should move a safe distance away and, if possible, turn off any ignition sources. Every spill is potentially dangerous and should be treated as such.
Without going back to investigate, the employee should recall what was seen. For example, what conditions were present? Was the spill in a confined space? Were sources of ignition present? Was there an identifiable odor? Is the spill a solid, liquid, or gas? What hazard warning labels were present?
Notify the spill response team and report the details of the spill. Even trained responders should not attempt to handle the spill alone. Some spills must also be reported to local, state, and federal regulatory agencies. Reports should be made by a person familiar with these reporting requirements.
Secure the area and warn others to stay away.
Spill responders should also be trained in first aid. Spill responders should not attempt a rescue until they are properly protected. After on-scene first aid treatment, injured person(s) should receive immediate professional medical attention.
Determine the hazards by obtaining MSDS’s, consulting knowledgeable personnel, reading labels, shipping papers, and placards. It may become necessary for responders to enter the spill area to obtain further information. If this becomes necessary, responders should assume the worst and use the highest level of personal protective equipment (SCBA’s and encapsulating suits).
After the hazard has been identified, the team should formulate an action plan. The action plan should include: diking and covering drains, controlling ignition sources if flammable materials are involved, and if possible, stopping the spill at its source. A leaking drum can be temporarily patched with Plug n Dike, following instructions on container. Always approach a spill from up-wind.
Once the hazard has been determined and the potential hazards assessed, select the appropriate personal protective equipment to enter the spill area.
Clean up spill from the outside in and avoid stepping directly into the spill itself. Always start by containing a spill with socks/booms. Containment means stopping the spill at its source to minimize exposure and spill migration. Controlling the spill promptly will reduce damage to the facility and environment.
Apply neutralizer for spill of acids or bases if using. Apply pads/pillows to soak up liquids quickly. A granular absorbent is sometimes used afterwards for final cleanup. Retrieve sorbents when saturated and place in disposal bag along with any contaminated soil. Clean up and decontaminate the area and personnel. Call Environmental or Safety officer for correct disposal procedures.