5th December 2022

Before cleaning up a spillage, what are the three things you need to know?

Before cleaning up a spillage, what are the three things you need to know?

Important chemical spill procedures

For any company that handles hazardous chemicals, it is important to understand the dangers involved. You will no doubt have a duty of care statement, the relevant procedures in place and training for all employees on handling hazardous chemicals. However, even under the strictest conditions, accidents can still occur.   


So what are the three things you need to know when discovering a chemical spillage?  


  1. Alert & Evacuate  

As soon as you discover a chemical spill, the first thing to do is to alert all relevant personnel immediately. If the spill is serious, ensure everyone in the area is informed and that the vicinity is cleared of people as quickly and safely as possible. If it is a significant spill, as soon as the site has been evacuated, you should inform any surrounding businesses and get in touch with your authorities.  


If there has been any injury resulting from a chemical spill, ensure they are removed from the area if it is safe to do so. Follow any first aid advice, if this is possible. If it is not immediately treatable, ensure that the emergency services are contacted and the person is kept comfortable until the medical professionals arrive.   


  1. Secure the area  

Once the area has been evacuated, it is imperative to keep the site secure. It is important to ensure that the spill does not get any worse. If it is safe to do so and there is a way to stop the spill or lower the chances of it worsening, those actions should be taken. Any further threat must be removed; turn off any ignition or heat sources that could cause further complications. Any other substances that could react with the spillage should also be removed if it is safe to do so.  

If you are not in a built-up area and it is safe to do so, ensure the site is well-ventilated and open any windows to stop any fumes from accumulating.   


  1. Confine the chemicals  

Now that the area has been evacuated and secured, it is important to prevent further damage to your facility, the surrounding area and the environment by confining the spill.   


Only employees trained in clearing such spillages should tackle the task and should ensure that they have the relevant PPE.  


The first thing to do is to try and minimise the area of the spill. Depending on the chemical involved and the situation, you could confine the area by using absorbent material or neutralisers. Use these absorbents around the perimeter of the spill to prevent it from spreading further.   


Also, make sure that any drains are covered to avoid any chemicals entering the environment through the water system. Any other ducts or outlets should be considered in the same way.   


Once the area is confined, ensure entry to the area is secured until the spill is sufficiently cleaned and protected from further harm.  


Once these three actions have been taken, clean-up can commence if you have the appropriate equipment.  


What do you need to know before cleaning up a spillage?  


If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation where you have been involved in a chemical spill, the first question you should ask yourself is whether you have received the appropriate training to handle a spillage of hazardous chemicals. If not, you should alert your colleagues and seek the nearest trained personnel to deal with the spillage.   


If you are trained to handle hazardous chemicals, you must ensure that you have the relevant PPE and cleaning materials and that they are also in good condition to protect you from any injury.   


As mentioned earlier in the article, you should ensure that the area has been adequately evacuated and secured before attempting to clean the space.   


Make sure that any PPE and cleaning equipment is stored safely and securely.  


How to stay safe around spillages  

Your company should have procedures laid out for the event of a chemical spill, and it is crucial to respond to those guidelines. Only attempt it if you are trained to handle the situation.   


If an area has been sectioned off because of a spillage, keep your distance unless you are trained to help. Help maintain the quarantined area by informing your colleagues.   


Keep any areas well-ventilated if safe to do so.   


The best way to stay safe is prevention. Most companies will have plans in place to try to ensure that spillages are kept to a minimum, so ensure that you are informed. Ask for the details if you do not have access to a relevant policy. Alternatively, contact your local authority if your business still needs to implement something. Wastege can always provide you with advice on keeping your business safe.  


Wastege are experts in removing and disposing of hazardous chemicals from commercial environments. Contact our specialist team to find out how we can help your business with our hazardous waste solutions.