Chemical Spills

REMEMBER: DO FIRST AID FIRST, THEN ASSESS THE SPILL - Is the Spill Major or Minor?

Minor Spill Response

  1. Notify fellow workers in vicinity of spill.
  2. Secure area, by restricting access and posting signs.
  3. Remove any potential ignition sources and unplug nearby electrical equipment.
  4. Gather and review safety information on spilled chemical. Review chemical's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for a hazard assessment and other pertinent information.
  5. Locate an appropriate Spill Kit.
  6. Put on appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) which usually includes chemical splash goggles, gloves, apron or lab coat. If high splash potential exists, also wear a face shield and protective clothing.
  7. Confine and contain spill. Cover spill with appropriate absorbent material. Neutralize acid and base spills prior to cleanup.
  8. Clean up spill using a scoop or other suitable item and place material in appropriate disposal container.
  9. Decontaminate spill surface with mild detergent and water, as appropriate. Carefully remove PPE, place non-reusable items in disposal container and thoroughly wash hands.
  10. Complete a hazardous waste label and affix label to container. Contact EH&S to arrange for waste disposal.
  11. Investigate cause of spill and review with EH&S. Document spill, response and follow-up with staff.
  12. Replenish spill kit.

Small Chemical Spill Clean UP - Incidental Spill

These spills can be cleaned up by trained laboratory personnel.

  1. Notify fellow workers in vicinity of spill.
  2. Secure area by restricting access and posting signs.
  3. Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment(PPE) to clean up the spill.
    • At a minimum, this includes gloves and protective eyeware (chemical splash goggles).
    • Depending on the size and type of spill, protective clothing (lab coat and apron), and protective foot coverings may be needed. If high splash potential exists, also wear a face shield over the chemical splash goggles.
  4. Shutdown equipement
    1. Close doors and shut HVAC vents if possible.
    2. Close all chemical containers.
    3. Close fume hood sash (leave fume hood ON)
    4. Turn off heating devices.
    5. Stop any reactions in progress.
    6. If flammable material spills, turn off sources of heat and ignition in entire lab.
  5. Gather and review safety information on spilled chemical. Review chemical's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for a hazard assessment and other pertinent information. Important information to know before beginning clean up includes:
    1. Flammability: Flash Point and Vapor Pressure
    2. Toxicity: PEL, TLV
    3. Corrosiveness: pH
  6. Locate an appropriate spill kit.
  7. Pick up any broken glass with tongs, dust pan and broom, or some other mechanical device. Do not use your hands to pick up the broken glass. Dispose of glass in an appropriate container (e.g. heavy cardboard box which is taped shut and marked "BROKEN GLASS" prior to disposal).
  8. Confine and contain spill. Place absorbent material over the spill, making sure not to spread the liquid. Protect drains - do not allow any spilled material to enter drains.
  9. Clean up spill using a scoop or other suitable item and place material in appropriate disposal container.
  10. Decontaminate spill surface with mild detergent and water, as appropriate. Carefully remove PPE, place non-reusable items in disposal container and thoroughly wash hands.
  11. Dispose of all contaminated material in a plastic bag. Label the bag with the name of the hazardous material. Complete a hazardous waste label and affix label to container.
  12. Contact the Department of Environmental Health and Safety for disposal.
  13. Replenish spill kit.

Liquid Spills:

  • Cover spill material with absorbent. Work from outside to center of spill to avoid spreading liquid.

Flammable Solvents:

  • Immediatley turn off any open flames, heating devices, instrument or machine near the spill that could spark and cause the solvent vapors to ignite and flash back.
  • Use plastic scoops and dust pan to clean up absorbent material.

Acids (except HF)

  • It is not necessary to neutralize an incidental spill. Use absorbent material.
  • Decontaminate area after removal of absorbent. Check pH if possible.

Powder Spills:

  • Do not dry sweep material. This will cause powder to become airborne and spread. Thoroughly wet material with water (or appropriate material) first.

Alkali Metals

  • Smother with dry sand. Avoid contact with water.
  • Do not dry sweep material.

Mercury

  • Cover with mercury decontaminating powder.
  • Do not dry sweep material. Use aspirator bulb or wet paper towels to collect mercury beads.
  • Use a flashlight to detect mercury beads that may have spread.

Gas Leak

  • Turn off gas cylinder if possible.
  • If gas is toxic, corrosive or flammable, evacuate area and call University Police at 911 campus phone or (631) 632-3333 cell phone.

Investigate cause of spill and review with EH&S. Document spill, response and follow-up with staff. The incident report must include the following:

  1. Type of emergency
  2. Name of material spilled, including pH, strength, concentration, etc.
  3. Area of spill and estimate of volum.
  4. Remediation performed
  5. Any follow-up that may be necessary
  6. Contact person
  7. Names of people who may have been exposed to substance

Major Spill Response

  1. Notify and evacuate fellow workers to a safe area. Post signs. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLEAN A MAJOR SPILL!
  2. If spill poses a fire hazard, activate nearest fire alarm. Call University Police at 911 (cell: (631) 632-3333) and give details of spill including specific location, chemical, quantity, and if anyone is injured.
  3. In case of an injury or chemical contamination:
    1. Wear PPE and move victim from spill area.
    2. If first aid trained, administer first aid as appropriate. Assist person to Employee Health or Emergency Department (after hours) for treatment. If possible, bring chemical label or MSDS.
    3. Locate nearest emergency safety shower or eyewash. Remove contaminated clothing and flush affected areas with copious amounts of water for 15 minutes.
  4. University Police will contact EH&S and either EH&S staff or outside personnel will respond to the spill.
  5. Staff knowledgeable about the spill should provide responders with all pertinent information and MSDS.
  6. The responders or designee will inform staff when it is safe to re-enter spill area.
  7. Investigate cause of spill. Document spill, response and follow-up with staff and contact EH&S.

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