Creating a Hazardous Materials Spill Plan

While most companies may not believe they need a plan for hazardous spills, there are a surprising number of businesses that do. Healthcare offices, for example, may handle radioactive materials for radiotherapy and imaging. Supermarkets carry cleaning products that could be harmful to shoppers in case of a large spillage. Even mundane offices use equipment that sometimes contains caustic or poisonous materials. 

For this reason, it’s wise for companies to evaluate the potential for exposure for their employees and customers and create a hazardous spill plan for biological, chemical, and radiological substances. 

Public health experts recommend the plan look something like the following: 

RESCUE. Evacuate the spill area and provide assistance to anyone who was exposed. This might be as simple as getting those exposed to fresh air, but it could also include the use of emergency eye wash stations and decontamination showers. Different spills will require different on-the-spot treatments, so it’s wise to examine the nature of potential exposure so you can have the right equipment and first-aid materials on hand to address the problem. 

CONFINE. Close and confine the spill area to the best of your ability by closing the nearest doors to the spill area. Isolate contaminated persons and do not allow them to leave or spread the contamination. Cover drains to prevent spills from spreading throughout the work environment. Depending on the material and situation, containment might involve confining the spilled substance to a small area by using some type of absorbent material or neutralizer, but do not use this material unless you’re certain it’s right for the type of spill. Start spreading those materials around the perimeter of the spill to prevent it from expanding and work your way to the center. 

REPORT. Once you have completed the “rescue” and “confine” steps, immediately notify the proper emergency response authorities, who can initiate professional containment and clean-up procedures. Provide these agencies with any details you have about the type of hazardous material spilled, estimated quantity, and location, as well as any exposures or injuries that occurred. 

SECURE. Once the authorities have been notified, secure the area until the appropriate emergency response has arrived to ensure no one enters the spill area. If the area has multiple entrances or has no doors that can be closed, locate staff at all entrances to prevent entry to the vicinity. 

CLEANUP. Do not attempt to clean up the spill on your own. There are procedures that must be followed when it comes to harmful materials. Allow qualified personnel with the appropriate training, protective equipment, and cleanup materials to do the job. 

Consult a Workplace Safety Professional

Professional workplace health and safety organizations can help you ensure your organization is prepared for a hazardous materials spill by assisting you in making a plan and having the right resources in place. In addition to providing first aid supplies and protective equipment, UniShield also offers on-site safety training that improves the welfare and productivity of your workers.

We will work with you to train your employees on safety best practices and establish a fatigue management plan. Contact us at 800-480-5855 or visit our Web site for more information.

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