SafetyWatch: Handling spills

April 12, 2018 -  By

Implement a spill response plan to ensure that your company is handling hazardous materials safely.

Make sure your company uses approved and appropriate containers for all substances. Where necessary, make sure formal labels and identifications are included for dangerous goods. Refer to Hazardous Material Data Sheets for specific information on handling toxic substances.

When transporting substances that represent a spill risk, make sure the containers are secure and working properly. Make sure any hoses or attachments do not leak or are not loose. Be careful unloading containers, or drawing dangerous substances out of containers. With a bit of vigilance, you can prevent spills from happening in the first place, which is always the best approach.

Despite everyone’s best efforts, spills still sometimes happen. When they do, fast and appropriate action is the key to containment and preventing as much damage as possible.

The spill response plan has several important elements. It should:

  • Identify potentially dangerous substances that might spill.
  • Identify the most likely causes of spills or accidents.
  • Outline responsibilities if a spill happens.
  • Include emergency contacts for fire, police, first responders, hospitals, doctors, relevant government agencies, clean-up specialists, the media and the company.
  • Outline communication protocols between the site and the emergency leadership team.
  • Describe the process for responding to spills.
  • Describe responsibilities for reporting spills.
  • Include instructions for debriefing after the incident is over.

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