Spills happen – that’s a fact. Clive Grinnell explains what to do in the event of one happening in your workplace…
Every workplace uses liquids, and with them comes the risk of spills. Whether the liquid itself is relatively harmless, or a hazardous chemical, it’s important that the correct spill control process and procedures are in place to ensure a proper and effective clean-up.
Hazardous liquids such as aggressive chemicals can be very dangerous and even deadly if they are misused, or in the event of a spillage. Without the right measures taken to clear them up, spillages of harmless liquids – even water – can cause accidents and injuries if not promptly and properly addressed.
Spill kits: workplace requirements
Under current regulations, workplaces are required to address procedures for dealing with spill incidents as part of their on-site emergency plan and emergency operating procedures. Appropriate spill absorbents should be provided, and training given on how to use them.
Workplaces handling hazardous chemicals must provide employees and visitors with appropriate PPE, and follow the correct procedures for disposal of contaminated waste.
Best practice suggests every member of staff employed by a business handling hazardous liquids should know where to find the right spill response equipment – including PPE – on site, and how to use spill kits it in the event of a spill. Data sheets should be readily available, so people know what liquids they are working with if an incident occurs.
How to respond to a spill in the workplace
If the worst does happen, and there is a spill, it’s vital to act quickly to prevent a worsening hazard and to reduce the risk of new or further accidents or injuries.
Our checklist below gives a handy step-by-step guide to responding to spill incidents in the workplace.
Responding to spill incidents in the workplace
- ASSESS the risk – this will need to be done continuously all the time the spill incident is in progress, until it is fully resolved.
- WEAR the correct PPE
- CONFINE the spill, using the spill kits you have on site to stop it from spreading. How easily or difficult this is will depend on the size of the spill you are dealing with.
- STOP the source in the event that liquid is still escaping. This might involve righting a container, or plugging a hole.
- CLEAN UP the spill, using the best spill absorbents for the task and following the correct spill control procedures to keep yourself and others safe, including using dedicated bins to dispose of waste as necessary. Find out more: Discover our range of spill control products.
- DECONTAMINATE where necessary, neutralising hazardous chemicals to stop their spread through soil or on people’s clothing.
- DISPOSE of contaminated waste appropriately, in accordance with the law and best practice in environmental management.
- DOCUMENT the spill by filling out an incident report. This enables management to check guidelines are being followed and will form the basis for future actions that may be taken to improve processes and procedures.
Our tip: Create a checklist for your teams to follow in the event of a spill incident in the workplace, including the above steps and any others that may be relevant to your business and its work. This will provide a prompt for those at the scene of any incident and help ensure that nothing is overlooked.