Spilling of any dangerous liquid can cause harm. It can be even more harmful when people are not aware of the kind of chemical spilled. Therefore, extra caution is required. Poor spill management can result in many health and environmental consequences and may have a devastating impact! Hence, getting employees trained well to manage spills is vital. Thus, it is necessary to be well prepared to face any spill incident.
Spill kits are the front line defence and the primary response tool when a spill incident occurs. If a spill does occur it can usually be addressed in an efficient and cost effective manner, provided there are appropriate spill kits readily available, and the knowledge to use them effectively.
Types of spill kits
- General spill kits: These spill kits are effective for the clean-up of non-aggressive or non-hazardous liquid spills.
- Oil-only spill kits: Used for hydrocarbon and oil-based liquids.
- Chemical spill kits: A wide range of aggressive and hazardous liquids are controlled with these types of spill kits.
- Laboratory & Medical Spill Kits: These kits are most effective for dealing with smaller volumes of aggressive substances and biohazard spills common in laboratories and clinical environments.
Contents of a spill kit
Spill kits should contain the following:
- A clearly labelled weather resistant container: Spill kits are packed in a wide variety of containers including small boxes, bags, mobile bins and even shipping containers. The primary purpose of the container is to keep the spill kit contents clean and dry and allow for rapid identification and access. The unique colour of bright lime green is favoured by AusSpill members and ensures compliance with the AusSpill Quality Guidelines
- Absorbent booms: These are flexible tubes are filled with absorbent material. When deployed around the perimeter or on the path of a spill they contain the liquid and state the absorption process. Ensure that the booms are compatible with the liquids that may spill.
- Absorbent pads: Absorbent pads provide for fast deployment, rapid absorption and easy clean up. Simply place the pad directly onto the pooled liquid and put directly into a waste bag once saturated. Make sure to purchase compatible pads. For example, oil-only spill kit absorbent pads can only clean up Oil Spills but they would be ineffective on coolant or battery acid.
- Absorbent pillows: Absorbent pillows are most effective when positioned under a leaking drum, hydraulic line or piece of machinery due to their large capacity. If cleaning up a spill on the ground, pads are a much more cost effective option.
- Loose Absorbent: This type of absorbent is also called floorsweep and is commonly used on small spills, where a large area is covered with a thin layer of spill or as the final step in the spill clean up process. There are many varieties of floorsweep available. Two of the best options coir and zeolite.
- Ties & disposal bags: Once the spill is soaked up, the used absorbent materials should be collected and placed in appropriate disposable bags. These bags must be very strong to ensure the contaminant remains contained in the bag prior to disposal. Remember to treat used absorbents carefully and dispose of the waste in the appropriate waste stream.
- Personal protective equipment: The last thing to include, but the most important items in the spill kit is appropriate PPE, such as gloves and goggles that would protect the personnel from the harmful effects of the chemicals.
Suppliers of spill control products like Spill Station Australia can ensure the best outcome in case of a spill. This leading supplier offers various solutions and services to industries to manage and control spills. The trained spill preparedness auditors at Spill Station identify safety compliance issues on industrial sites and recommend real solutions. There is always a limit when it comes to training employees. So seeking professional help from a supplier like Spill Station can ensure that Spills are effectively contained and employees secured, in the best possible way.
Tips to deal with industrial spills:
- Scheduled spill kit maintenance: Your spill kit is a critical piece of safety and emergency response equipment and as such must be maintained and kept in a “ready to respond” condition. The Work Health & Safety regulation allows for fines of up to $30,000 for failure to maintain emergency response and safety equipment. To ensure you are operating in a lawful manner, third party service providers will take ownership of this compliance issue and will inspect and restock your spill kits at regular intervals.
- Keep chemicals and decanting activities bunded: Keep any spills contained by ensuring that you conduct any decanting activities in a bunded area. This will keep any spills contained and ensure a fast cleanup. Products such as spill pallets, drip trays and portable bunding are easy and flexible solutions.
- Always stay prepared: When you are conducting any workplace activity using liquids you should identify the location of the nearest compatible spill kit. Ideally it is not more than 10 metres away to allow fast response.
- Ensure employee safety: No employee should be at risk while dealing with a spill. Employees have to get equipped with the right protective clothing to deal with spills and for a cleaning up session after the spill. Depending on the need of the situation, spill kits can be utilised, since they are easy to transfer to large sites.
- Act fast but do not rush: Spills can have a devastating impact on the employees, the workplace and the environment. The faster your response, the smaller the problem! Even a minor delay can multiply the effect of a spill and can cause significant harm.
- Stop the spill at the source: When safe to do so, the first action must be to stop the spill. Turn off taps, close valves or stand up knocked over drums. Plugitup Putty is a fantastic product for the temporary sealing of leaking tanks and drums. Alternatively, add some form of a barrier to prevent the spilt liquid from spreading.
- Minimise the area affected: Surround the spill with absorbent booms found in most spill kits. If the area is on a slope or a thin liquid such as diesel, more than one row of booms, or a combination of booms and pads, may be required to contain the spill.
- Soak it up or clean it: Use the most appropriate absorbent. Often absorbent pads are the go to item as they are fast to deploy and clean up. Loose absorbent made from a range of materials can also help contain considerable volumes of liquid. Hence, the contaminated absorbents can get cleared with a brush or a shovel.
- Dispose of the used supplies: The used or contaminated supplies need to be disposed of in accordance with local, state and federal regulations. Keep extra strong contaminated waste bags handy. Remember, the bag should be resistant to the material spilled. This also ensures that the disposal is effective and safe.
Types of spills and leaks
- Hydraulic leaks: These are the slow drip of hydraulic oils underneath equipment vehicles or machinery, which require lubricant or some coolant to operate. The leaks may start while the equipment is in operation or at rest. It may make the situation difficult to troubleshoot or isolate.
- Over-servicing of fluid chambers: Routine maintenance involves the checking of various fluid types such as brake fluid, coolant, or even hydraulic fluids. During the process of filling, the chamber may end up with more fluid, causing a spill.
- Fuel leaks or spills: Despite numerous precautions, unexpected fuel leaks do happen. Problems can occur even at the fuel depot when a driver is distracted during a fill-up and the pump does not shut off. This may lead to a leak or spill.
- Component replacement: Most equipment or vehicles may require replacement and fluid re-stocking for their respective parts. A large quantity of fluid may be lost when the worn-out parts need replacement or when the fluid is re-filled.
What is the best spill kit?
There are so many spill kit suppliers on the market it can easily become confusing and you can end up with a spill kit that does not do the job. The Australian Spill Control Industry Association, AusSpill, has implemented a set of Quality Guidelines in order to assist consumers to have a genuine solution.
All spill kits that bear the AusSpill mark on compliance have been tested by an independent laboratory to ensure that the absorbent perform to the indicated capacity.
If you buy a spill kit with the AusSpill Mark of Compliance, you can be confident your spill kit will perform.