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Spill Response: 7 Steps

Assess the Risk

1.) Assess the Risk

Before you attempt to clean up a spill, make sure you are taking into account everything that might be affected by that spill. Look at the risks to human health, the environment and property. If possible, identify the spilled material and determine how much has spilled. Use the container's label or the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to identify the liquid and the primary dangers posed to spill responders and the environment.

Assess the Risk

2.) Select Personal Protective Equipment

Choose the appropriate PPE to safely respond to the spill. This could include goggles, gloves, or respirators. Check the MSDS and literature on the chemical spilled for best PPE recommendations. If you are uncertain of the danger or the spilled material is unknown, assume the worst and use the highest level of protection.

Assess the Risk

3.) Confine the Spill - Speed Counts!

Limit the spill area by blocking, diverting or confining the spill. Stop the spread of liquid before it has a chance to contaminate a water source. Spill kits are designed to facilitate a quick, effective response. Non-absorbent barriers such as containment booms, drain covers and spill berms are also available to confine liquid, minimize spill area, and protect drains.

Assess the Risk

4.) Stop the Source

After the spill is confined, stop the source of the spill. This may simply involve turning a container upright, closing a valve, or plugging a leak from a damaged drum or container. Be sure to transferliquids from the damaged container to a new one.

Assess the Risk

5.) Evaluate Incident/Implement Clean up

Once the spill is confined and the source has been stopped, it is time to develop a plan of action for implementing the spill cleanup. Simply place absorbents that are chemically compatible with the liquid spilled throughout the spill area. Once the absorbents are saturated, they should be properly disposed. Sorbents do not render liquids non-flammable, neutral or less-hazardous and will take on the characteristics/properties of whatever liquid is absorbed, Therefore, all measures must be taken as if you were handling the liquid itself. Sorbents do not make the liquid less hazardous. Always referto the MSDS for the chemical absorbed before proceeding.

Assess the Risk

6.) Decontaminate

Decontaminate the site, personnel and equipment by removing or neutralizing the hazardous materials that have accumulated during the spill. This may involve removing and disposing the contaminated media,such as earth, that were exposed during the spill incident. An effective decontamination area ensures the health and safety of emergency responders.

Assess the Risk

7.) Complete Required Reports

Complete all notifications and reporting required by local, state, and Federal guidelines for reporting spill incidents. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties! Necessary reports can include: medical record reports, company incident reports, Local Emergency Planning Commission reports or National Responsible Center Reports.