May 8, 2019

Are you ready in case of a spill?

Are you ready in case of a spill?

Each year in Canada, more than 60,000 workers are injured on the job by stumbling, losing footing, slipping or making a misstep. From this, 60% are falls from the same level.

The biggest fall hazard is found on floors soiled with water, grease, oil or any other liquid and food. Therefore, it is essential to properly manage the floors. Canadian and American legislation bodies (OSHA, CSA, LCPE) are recommending an action plan to protect employees and the environment by integrating a spill control program.

Your spill control program

Most facilities use absorption agents to clean up leaks, drippings and spills. But is this enough? What are the processes of your spill control program? Is it as comprehensive as it should be?

Spills may unfortunately happen. Spill kits are part of an appropriate spill containment plan and contribute to the protection against leaks or unexpected spills. For rapid responses, kits must be located where an incident is most likely to occur: shipping & receiving, storage areas for chemicals and hydrocarbons as well as inside vehicles. Similar to first aid kits, spill kits must only be used in case of emergency. Also, it is important to ensure you have the right kit type and size. A universal kit cleans all types of liquid spills, an oil kit only absorbs hydrocarbons (gasoline, diesel and oil), and a chemical kit is for all spills of chemical products, including acids.

Absorption agents are an effective way to clean up small spills. OSHA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describe how to use absorption agents.

- OSHA requires that work floors stay clean and dry.

- EPA requires that facilities prevent the entry of potentially dangerous liquids for the environment.

Absorption agents efficiently comply with both directives. Properly located spill kits are often used when incidents occur. However, spill kits are not enough. You need a program.

Consider the following scenario: an employee spills his coffee and uses the absorption pads from a nearby spill kit. Discarding them, he continues his work. In the following weeks, similar incidents occur. Two months later, a bigger spill happens, but the spill kit is empty. For a spill program to be complete, it must include a general-use element as well as an emergency spill element.

For general maintenance, it is critical to always have enough pads, rolls, socks and pillows handy. Also, install smaller spill kits in the area of each machine and near exits. It is the way to contain a spill before it enters the environment.

In case of a spill, follow these cleaning steps:

  1. Assess the risk;
  • a. Is the spill from a known substance, proceed with caution.
  • b. If the spill is from an unknown substance, contact the authorities immediately.
  1. Wear protective clothing;
  2. Contain the spill;
  3. Seal all drains;
  4. Shut off the source;
  5. Start the cleaning process of the liquid using absorption agents;
  6. Communicate with the authorities and fill out all reports required by local laws;
  7. Dispose of soiled materials ;
  8. Decontaminate the zone;
  9. Resupply all kits in prevision of future incidents;
  10. Review all the procedures.

To properly manage general-use spill absorption and spill control programs is the best way to be prepared.

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