How to prepare and respond to spills

SpillPro on 26 September 2023

Chemical hazards in the workplace require vigilant management to ensure the safety of employees. Waiting for a chemical spill incident to occur before devising a response plan is not a proactive approach. Additionally, many industries legally require businesses to have spill response plans in place, non-compliance can result in fines. 

Emergency spill response procedures are invaluable tools to guide employees in responding to spills and to train them in understanding site hazards and expectations.

SpillPro, your trusted partner for emergency spill response solutions, is here to assist.

Here are essential steps to consider when developing site-specific emergency response procedures:

Before a Spill Happens

1. Stay Informed about On-site Chemicals

Every chemical comes with an SDS detailing its properties and hazards. Whenever a new chemical is introduced on-site, capture and distribute this information to all relevant personnel. Update procedures and spill response equipment as needed to address new risks.

2. Prepare in Advance

Thorough preparation is irreplaceable when it comes to spill management. Conduct risk assessments to identify primary spill risks on your site. Based on the assessment results, place spill response kits in high-risk areas.

3. Train Your Team

Well-trained personnel can be the difference between containing a minor incident and a major environmental catastrophe. Implement employee training programs and conduct emergency spill response drills to ensure everyone knows their role in emergencies.

During a Spill

1. Assess the Situation

Effective spill response begins with a clear understanding of the situation. Ask key questions:

  • Is the source of the spill still active?

  • Is there a risk of fire or explosion?

  • Should an alarm be activated based on the spill's extent and risk?

  • Who needs to be involved in the spill response?

2. Contain the Spill

Immediate containment is crucial to prevent the spill from spreading. Seal off drains to prevent chemical migration into sewer systems and the environment. Utilise booms and physical barriers to confine the spill.

3. Clean Up the Spill

The spill's size dictates the cleanup approach. For smaller spills, use the designated spill kits with appropriate absorbents and PPE. Larger spills may necessitate support from internal emergency response teams or external agencies. Swift cleanup is essential to minimise environmental risks.

After a Spill

1. Proper Waste Disposal

Disposal is as important as spill response and clean-up. Spent absorbent material must be treated as hazardous waste if the chemical spill itself is hazardous. It can only be transferred to approved hazmat disposal sites for the protection of the environment and for the safety of workers. Landfill workers are not trained in the management of hazardous chemicals.

2. Report the Spill

Depending on the spill volume and environmental impact, it may require reporting to authorities. Comply with industry and on-site chemical reporting requirements.

3. Find the cause of the Spill

Conduct a thorough investigation to prevent future spills. Identify the source, whether it was a pipe failure, human error, or equipment failure. Use the findings to enhance procedures, training, and equipment.

4. Evaluate Your Spill Response

Continuous improvement is essential. Reflect on the response to the spill:

  • Did the initial responder take appropriate action?

  • Was the source stopped promptly?

  • Could the spill containment have been more effective?

  • Did you have the necessary equipment, such as Spill Kits

  • Were there concerns related to extended work hours and fatigue?

And don't forget, it is important to restock spill kits once they have been used as part of a spill response.

Contact SpillPro 

SpillPro entered the Australian spill and environmental control market more than 40 years ago. We offer products and services that make your job of handling chemicals and responding to spills easier. Our track record and experience in the industry make us a trusted partner in the fight to protect our sensitive environment from spills.

Find out more here or call our expert team on 1800 368 450 today.