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Absorbent Materials

Spill control is a major part of COSHH regulations. Every business that works with hazardous liquids such as solvents or oils must make sure they have a tried and tested response plan for when accidents occur.

Probably the most important element in your spill control arsenal will be absorbent materials. Whether you use pads, granules, socs or a combination of all three; you will need a good supply placed strategically around your site so they are always to hand in an emergency. Seton has a wide selection of options available for all spill types. More information on where to site sorbents and how to choose what provision you'll need according to spill type and usage can be found in our absorbent supplies buying guide.

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Where to Site Sorbent Materials


Once you have carried out a COSHH risk assessment you will have identified how likely spills are to occur in your workplace and where they might happen. Obvious areas that will need spill control in the form of absorbent materials are wherever liquids are stored and the locations in which they are commonly used. You will also want to keep stocks at intervals along routes used for transporting liquids from A to B. This doesn’t just include the course taken by drums or other containers, but also extends to pipes that carry water and chemicals as well. Any vehicles which transport hazardous liquids will also be required to keep absorbent materials onboard.

Further stocks should be held around large machinery which could leak potentially dangerous or flammable substances and in or near areas such as kitchens and bathrooms to soak up water which can become a slip hazard.

It is also a good idea to keep extra sorbent materials in cleaner or maintenance store cupboards so spill kits can have their contents replaced immediately after use.

Absorbent materials can also be employed as packaging filler when chemicals or oils are being transported. This will contain any spills caused by damage during transit.

Sorbent Products According to Spill Type


Once you have decided where to situate your absorbent materials the next step is to consider which substances are present in each location. Sorbent products are generally geared to three different spill types. These are:

  • Oil-Only – Suitable for oil and petroleum based liquids. These are useful in storage areas and around machinery.

  • Chemical – Suitable for acids, caustics and other chemical substances. Perfect for store rooms and cleaners cupboards, as well as general use in laboratories, salons and repair shops.

  • Maintenance – Suitable for most industrial liquids such as water and solvents. A versatile item that is helpful in many situations - keep on hand in kitchens, warehouses and outdoor areas.


  • Using Absorbent Pads, Granules and Socs


    For small spills sorbent pads will often be all that is required - these can be purchased in wall-mounted boxes for quick and easy use. To tailor the size of a pad to your requirements, a sorbent roll which can be cut to fit is ideal. These also have the added benefit of reducing waste.

    Thick sorbent pillows work in much the same way as pads, but can hold more liquid and are squashable to fit awkward spaces. They can be particularly useful for catching slow leaks.

    Absorbent granules can be made from a variety of substances including clay and will solidify spills so they can be swept away.

    For larger spills, sorbent socs should be placed immediately around the perimeter of the liquid to prevent it from spreading. The inside can then be filled with pads, pillows and sorbent granules as required.

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