What Does Chemical Containment Mean?
Chemical containment is a set of procedures that keep a chemical spill contained, under control, or limits its spread.
Chemical containment has multiple benefits. Not only does it prevent hazardous chemicals from causing additional damage, it also reduces the work required in cleaning up the spill and the costs associated with an uncontained spill.
Safeopedia Explains Chemical Containment
Due to their corrosive nature, chemicals should be stored in areas where accidental spills can easily be contained. They should be in a secondary containment system (SCS), such as:
- An impermeable bunded area
- A bunded storage unit
- A bunded pallet or spill pallet
- A sump pallet
A bunded trolley or mobile sump pallet can be used to secure the drums before moving them around a site. The bunds or pallets should be able to contain 110% of the volume of the largest tank, or 25% of the volume stored, whichever is greater.
Immediate Response to Chemical Spills
Whenever a chemical spill takes place, the immediate response should be to contain it and clean it. Industries dealing with chemicals should always be prepared with the equipment needed for a cleanup and the personal protective equipment (PPE) required to handle a spill.
In case of a spill, these general guidelines can be followed:
- Alert the supervisor, workers, and staff in the vicinity of the spill
- Evacuate the area if necessary
- If the spill has contaminated a worker, that worker should be immediately attended to by removing clothing and flushing skin with water for at least 15 minutes
- First aid should be administered
- If needed, call for emergency medical services
- If the chemical is volatile or flammable type, shut off all sources of ignition and ventilate the area
Cleaning Up a Chemical Spill
Before beginning the cleanup procedure, all involved personnel should don the appropriate PPE, including adequate respirators. The team should refer to the safety data sheet (SDS) for the spilled chemical, along with any other relevant documents. A trained person should also be stationed outside the spill area in case of an emergency.
Cleaning up a chemical spill may involve the following steps:
- Determine the extent and type of spill
- Use absorbents to prevent the chemical from spilling into floor drains or any other means by which it could be released into the environment
- Distribute loose spill control materials over the spill area, circling from the outside to inside
- Once absorbed, use brushes and scoops to remove the material and discard in an appropriate container
- Label the container using a hazardous waste sticker identifying it as spill debris
- Decontaminate the spill area using appropriate cleaning agents
- Prepare an incident report and submit it to the supervisor
In the event that the spill is so large or the chemical is too dangerous to be handled by the employees, call emergency services for assistance.