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Safety Management Insights

What Every Worker Needs to Know About Responding to a Chemical Spill

Posted by Don Brown on Sep 18, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Chemical_SpillUnderstanding how to respond to a chemical spill is imperative to keeping harmful fumes and corrosive materials from spreading. Taking the wrong steps can make matters worse.

Even if you have designated personnel who meet OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training requirements for cleaning up a spill, your employees will most likely be your first responders - and your first line of defense. In other words, it’s critical that all employees understand what chemicals are in your workplace, what dangers they pose and how to minimize the hazards if a chemical is improperly released. 

Your plan of action should be posted in a highly-visible space, along with an emergency response plan that’s specific to your company. 

Here are 5 critical steps all workers should take if a chemical spill occurs:

  1. Evacuate the area immediately. Don’t attempt to clean up the spill yourself. Take shelter in a designated place to avoid being exposed to hazardous materials.

  2. If it’s safe to do so, designate someone to secure the area with rope, cones or caution tape to keep others away. 

  3. Contact the safety manager or emergency personnel. 

  4. Make a note of the following key information, including: Follow your emergency response plan as you wait for help to arrive. Follow your emergency response plan as you wait for help to arrive

    • The name of the chemical and its properties (Refer to your safety data sheets
    • Where and how it was released. Include information such as whether it was sprayed into the air, spilled or leaked onto the ground
    • Approximately much material was released 
    • Whether the release impacted, or could impact, environmentally-sensitive areas - such as a water supply
    • Whether anyone was potentially exposed, and the extent of the exposure, including whether they came into direct contact with the material.
  5. Follow your emergency response plan as you wait for help to arrive.

Having your chemical safety data sheets in order is essential to being prepared for emergencies. 

Unfortunately, this critical information is often disorganized and difficult for employees to access quickly. However, BasicSafe’s Safety Data Sheet software allows safety managers to keep data on all their workplace chemicals in one easily accessible place.

You can define locations where chemicals are stored and index files by those areas so your employees will always know where to find the information that’s most relevant to them. 

To learn more about BasicSafe’s SDS module, click here to take a virtual tour.
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