How to Deal with Spills in Your Facility
Spills can lead to serious injuries but they are preventable with the right kind of preparation.
Did you know that one in six lost time injuries are caused by slips, trips, and falls, and that they can cost an average of $20,000 per incident (see Lost Time: How Does it Add Up? to learn more)? While these occurrences are dangerous and costly, they can be avoided with the right precautions. One important step you can take is to take care of the spills that create slipping hazards before they can injure any of your employees.
What You'll Need Before a Spill Takes Place
When a spill occurs at your facility, the safety of your employees and the work environment depend on your quick and effective response. The best way to be prepared for a spill is to have the proper clean-up equipment in your facility, know what to do when a spill takes place, and have a plan to refill your equipment after the spill has been dealt with.
To be prepared for spills, you'll need standard pads and rolls that are easily accessible to your employees throughout the facility. Be sure to also have designated spill kits of varying sizes positioned throughout your facility, including general purpose absorbents and emergency response spill kits. This will support fast emergency spill cleanup.
Be especially mindful of distribution areas or production near drains—anywhere fluids could reach the environment.
Ten Steps for Dealing with a Spill
So what do you do when a spill occurs? Stick to these 10 steps:
- Assess the risk: Evaluate the material spilled and identify the source
- Wear protective clothing: If the source or the material is not identifiable, assume the worst and dress appropriately
- Contain the spill and seal drains to prevent an environmental breach
- Stop the source: Close valves, rotate punctured drums, and plug leaks when possible
- Begin clean up by using SPC absorbents
- Contact the authorities: Report the spill to proper legal authorities in your community
- Dispose of used material: Absorbent materials take on the characteristics of whatever they absorb so make sure you are disposing of them properly (find out How to Safely Handle and Dispose of Oily Waste)
- Decontaminate: Clean all tools and reusable materials properly before re-use
- Restock materials: Replace absorbent materials and safety equipment used in any clean-up operation
- Review contingency plans and procedures
Establish a Replenishment Strategy
The final way you can prepare for spills in your facility is to have a replenishment system in place to make sure you have the materials you need, when you need them.
This might not seem like an essential step, but think about all the small things that drain your supply. You place spill kits around your facility and gradually take a pad here and a sock there. Months go by and then a larger spill occurs, but when you go to your spill kit, you find it empty because the absorbents have all been used on day-to-day spills.
Some best practices to keep in mind:
- Keep stock in each work area where leaks, drips, and spills commonly occur
- Place emergency kits in plain sight
- Replenish pads, socks, and other products frequently
- Place an order when you see your stock depleting
- Replace the spill kit contents whenever a spill occurs, so you're prepared for the next one