It’s inevitable. No matter how careful you are, spills happen.
That’s why it is important for your company to have a spill response plan, especially if your workplace uses hazardous chemicals. A spill kit is an on-site, easy-to-grab, organized set of equipment used to contain and clean up dangerous spills safely. Depending on your industry, spill kits are also an OSHA requirement.
Industries that should have a spill kit on-site include:
- Electrical companies
- Public transportation
- Automotive repair/mechanic shops
- Retail stores, such as grocery stores
- Commercial kitchens and restaurants
- Shipping depots
- Oil, gas and mining sectors
- Manufacturing plants and factories
- Docks and marinas
- Public and government buildings
The types of supplies in your spill kit depend on what types of spills you anticipate having to clean. There are three main categories of spill kits: Oil, Hazmat and General Purpose.
Oil spill kits are needed at any worksite that utilize oil or oil-related substances. This includes mechanic workshops, oil rigs and manufacturing plants where there is a risk of grease or oil leaking or spilling. An oil spill kit should contain absorbents that repel water, so it can be used in an accident such as a grease spill in an industrial kitchen, an oil leak at an automobile mechanic workshop or an ocean oil spill.
Hazmat spill kits are used for cleaning dangerous and hazardous chemicals. Hazardous chemicals can be highly detrimental to personal health; therefore, the contents of these kits need to protect the user’s skin when cleaning up the spill. In these kits, it’s important to include protective equipment such as safety goggles, masks and gloves. Some hazmat kits may include full hazmat suits to prevent breathing in fumes.
General purpose spill kits are the most common kits at worksites. These all-purpose kits are designed to contain non-hazardous substances. There are a variety of spill kits that fall under this category for unique situations and industries. Hospitals, for example, need spill kits that can clean up blood and bodily fluids, whereas commercial restaurants and retail stores require kits that can clean broken glass, spilled products, water and foods.
The typical contents of a general-purpose spill kit may include:
- Disposable bags
- Protective equipment and clothing, such as gloves
- Safety goggles
- Absorbents used for soaking up the spill
- A containment boom for preventing further spread of the spill
- Broom and dustpan
- Cleaning supplies
- Highly visible safety barriers to keep people out of the spill area
No matter what type of spill you are controlling, it is helpful to have a spill kit in an all-in-one container, in order to quickly access all the supplies you need. Consider having your spill kit on a cart so that it is mobile and easy for anyone to move to the scene of the spill.
Safety barriers that are highly visible and clearly communicate that the spill area is dangerous should be a part of any spill kit. No matter if the spill is water, oil, or a hazardous substance, injuries may occur if people are unaware of the spill. Warn others and keep them safe by visually alerting to and marking off the spill area.
A well-equipped spill kit is an essential part of any company’s health and safety program. Choose the right kit for your job site and familiarize yourself with all its contents. Make sure to train employees on how to properly use the spill kit and keep it in an easy to access spot that is clearly visible to workers.
Remember, it is essential to provide a safe working environment, especially if hazardous materials are in use at your job site. Properly used, a spill kit can help you rapidly contain and clean a dangerous spill before anyone gets hurt.