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Spill / Leak Preparedness & Prevention



More Detail:  SOLIDS & LIQUIDS

Make a decision on whether to evacuate immediate area of the spill. If the spill is outside of the containment and ventilation provided by your lab fume hood, evacuation of the lab will often be necessary. If you are unsure about the need for lab evacuation, get out. For spills of solids or liquids, it will often not be necessary to evacuate other areas, since labs with chemicals are normally under negative pressure with respect to the surrounding areas. Take note of the identity and quantity of the spilled material upon leaving your lab.

Determine the need for evacuation of additional areas. Unless the spill is contained and/or incidental, you should contact Campus Police at 911. They can help you with evacuation decisions and can immediately be in touch with Environmental Health and Safety personnel who can help answer this question. If you are using a highly hazardous material and have reason to believe it can enter the hallway, please do not hesitate to pull a fire alarm if you feel the need for building-wide evacuation. If only lab evacuation is necessary, post a sign, or better yet a person, outside each lab entrance to assure others do not enter.

When you contact Campus Police at 911, you should do it from a safe location. Unless you have persons to help you secure the lab, it is best to phone from a location where you can see the lab entrance to keep people away. Please provide Campus Police with ALL information requested. Please remain at this safe phone (and give Campus Police the phone number) so responders can talk with you directly about the details of the spill. If it was necessary to evacuate the building, please do so immediately and report to the area where emergency responders are congregated (command center) and identify yourself as a person knowledgeable about the details of the spill. Please don’t leave the command center area until instructed. If possible, someone in your group should contact your principal investigator to advise him/her of the spill.

For spills not requiring evacuation - Make determination on whether cleanup can be handled by work area personnel or if assistance is required. AFTER REVIEWING THE APPROPRIATE MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEETS a determination should be made using the following guidelines. Unless you know that the material clearly presents little hazard to you, you should contact Campus Police at 911 who can put you in touch with EH&S personnel to assist you with this determination. In most cases, where relatively small quantities of spilled materials are present, the lab is secured, and the size of the spill is not growing, there is adequate time to make this determination.

Generally, the spill can/should usually be cleaned up by lab personnel if:

The material is low hazard (not flammable, corrosive, toxic, or reactive

The material is flammable, but of low to moderate toxicity, and the liquid spill quantity is one gallon or less Shut off ignition sources immediately, dike perimeter of spill, and cover with absorbent ASAP to reduce vapors. Groups that routinely handle larger quantities may wish to be approved / prepared to handle larger spills. Contact EH&S 515-6860 for details.

The material is corrosive, but of low to moderate toxicity, the liquid spill quantity is less than one gallon in quantity, and the spill area is limited in size.

The material is low to moderately reactive, but of low to moderate toxicity, the properties of the material are well understood (e.g. friction sensitivity, water / air reactivity, etc.), and the liquid quantity is less than one gallon

The material is low to moderate toxicity, but no "ceiling value" is noted on the MSDS (SDS), and there is no precaution about toxic effects due to skin absorption. You must also know that glove materials are protective against the material. See EH&S web information on skin absorption and glove selection. Spills in this category are usually limited to 0.5 gallon. Where EH&S indicates that respiratory protection is required for short term exposure, outside assistance will be necessary unless work area personnel are already trained, medically cleared, and equipped with proper respiratory protection for the spilled material through the EH&S department.

For all of the above, hazardous material spill control materials and appropriate protective clothing are available and appropriate cleanup procedures are understood.

As you can see there are a number of considerations. IF you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Campus Police at 911.


Don't walk through the spill

Don't dilute the spill or disturb it in other ways without first diking around the perimeter of the spill with pillows or other spill absorbent materials.

If a spilled material has contacted any part of your body, start first aid measures immediately. Shout for help and move directly to the nearest eyewash or shower. Disrobe promptly if clothing is involved. Flush for a minimum of 15 minutes whether eyes or skin are involved. Other persons should assist (you will need help with eye flushing) and should contact 911 at the earliest possible time to obtain additional assistance and further treatment.

Two persons should be used for spill cleanup. A minimum of two persons must be used if the spill cleanup is considered an emergency by OSHA definition.


Additional questions or comments about this section can be referred to 515-6860.