Whilst carrying out deliveries or refuelling vehicles it is possible that spillages of chemicals or fuels will occur. Obviously, the best way to deal with a spillage is to avoid having one in the first place!
Ensure that there are procedures in place for the correct storage, transferring, handling, using and disposing of chemicals and that all workers who will be coming into contact with the chemicals know what those procedures are and what they should do if a spillage occurs.
The instructions for dealing with a spillage should be easily accessible and highly visible. Workers should also have access to the material safety data sheets for each chemical being used and must wear the appropriate PPE for each one to minimise the risks of injury from the chemicals.
If a spillage occurs, there are 4 basic generic steps to follow (regardless of what has been spilt / the level of hazard):
1) Communicate the hazard – Immediately notify those working in the area, informing them what has been spilt and how much has been spilt. Depending on what’s been spilt, it may be necessary to evacuate the area. Ensure that anyone who has come into contact with the spillage is removed to a safe area and receives the appropriate treatment i.e. flushing contaminated areas with water etc (follow the advice on the material safety data sheet and seek medical attention if required).
2) Control the spill – ensure that the spill does not become any worse i.e. if a container has been knocked over, right the container so nothing else can spill out. Ensure workers in clearing the spill have got the correct PPE on, to reduce the risk of anyone else becoming contaminated. If necessary, shut down any sources of heat or ignition.
3) Contain the hazard – stop the spill from spreading to other areas. Depending on what has been spilt, confine the spill with some kind of absorbent spill kit around the edges of the spill. Work the spill kit into the centre of the spill and ensure that the spill kit prevents the spill from entering any draining systems, which could cause and environmental issue. If the spill is going to be left unattended whilst it’s soaking up, ensure that warning signs are places around the perimeter of the spill to prevent anyone else coming into contact with the chemical.
4) Clean up the spill and assess any damage to the area – collect all the material used to contain the spill and dispose of it appropriately. If the material is classed as hazardous, ensure that the disposal guidelines from the material safety data sheet are followed as specified by environmental regulations. Clean the surfaces with the correct material / cleaning detergents as specified on the material safety data sheet. Ensure that after the clean-up you wash your hands thoroughly before eating, drinking or going to the toilet. Ensure that any contaminated PPE is disposed of appropriately.
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