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Spill Control

An important part of any COSHH risk assessment is having an efficient emergency response plan. This will detail what should be done in the event of an accident involving hazardous substances. Dealing with incidents quickly will protect workers, premises and the wider environment from harm so holding adequate stocks of spill response equipment is a must. A good way of ensuring you have everything you need to hand is to keep a spill kit wherever substances are stored or worked with – this will allow for an effective first response with minimum delay. Kits are available in a range of types and styles to suit all locations. Absorbent socks, pads and granules will soak up large spills, reduce slip hazards and make cleaning up much easier, while protective barriers and drain covers can be used to contain leaks and prevent them from spreading.

For advice on creating an emergency response plan, the use of spill equipment in your workplace and tips for other items you may need; read our useful spill containment buying guide.

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Spill Containment: Buying Guide


Creating an Emergency Plan


The Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 2015 deal with emergencies such as spills and leaks in larger locations and lay out clear guidelines on how to create an emergency response plan. Although most businesses aren’t large enough to worry about complying with COMAH, it is always a good idea to know what must be done and who should do it if an incident occurs. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 state that anyone working with dangerous materials should include emergency planning as part of their risk assessment and ongoing monitoring.

Any emergency response plan should be simple and achievable, take into account any foreseeable occurrences and outline the following:

  • Spill Containment and control – Leaks and spills must be dealt with quickly and appropriately. Ensure spill response equipment is readily available and well stocked.

  • Protection Provision – Any kind of accident has potential repercussions for staff and the environment. The correct personal protection equipment (PPE) and items such as berms and drain covers which prevent leaked materials from entering the drainage system, must be used when required.

  • COSHH Training – Staff must be trained on how to deal with incidents and what the potential hazards are for each material used. They must also know when to deal with a problem and when it would be more appropriate to call the emergency services.

  • Evacuation Procedures – If all or part of your premises must be emptied of people, simple guidelines on how this should happen and clear signage need to be in place.

  • Waste Disposal – When leaks and spills have been contained and controlled it is imperative they are disposed of in the correct manner, using suitable waste management equipment.


  • Once you have a plan in place it should be monitored and practiced regularly to ensure it remains compatible with your business processes.

    Spill Control Management & Spill Kits


    There is a wide range of spill control equipment available. The processes outlined in your emergency response plan should make it much easier to work out exactly what is required for your site.

    Spill kits are an effective way of providing provision for chemical, oil or other liquid spills. They are available with a choice of contents according to size and spill type, and can be supplied with containers that double as disposal vessels for easy removal. All kits contain absorbent materials such as socs and pads that soak up large amounts of fluid, however your response plan might indicate that additional stocks of these items are required. Rolls of absorbent pads are a good idea for larger areas, as are special kits which include an overpack for holding damaged drums. You might also need to hold stock of a granular sorbent for locations where pads might not be appropriate, such as outside spaces.

    Often the most important aspect of spill control is preventing liquids from spreading. If leaks aren’t contained they can easily find their way into drainage systems which can have massive implications for your business and the environment. Care should also be taken to see hazardous liquids don’t come into contact with other substances with which they could react, causing a potentially dangerous domino effect. Staff, stock and premises are also at risk from contamination, so spill barriers are an absolute necessity - berms, booms and other similar devices will all buy you time when it comes to cleaning up.

    Spill stations which hold sorbent material and disposal equipment, as well as provide information on COSHH and how to deal with accidents, are available. They can be a useful way of ensuring everyone knows where spill containment supplies are stored. The full selection of spill response equipment also includes items such as drain covers, specialist waste disposal products and anti-slip spill mats.

    FAQs


    What else will I need to deal with accidental leaks?


    As well as holding sufficient stocks of spill control apparatus as outlined above, you will also want to be prepared by having a good supply of personal protective equipment. Keeping separate cleaning equipment such as mops and buckets is a good idea to prevent cross-contamination and floor stands will alert staff to slip and trip hazards. Because of the potential for injury when accidents occur, you should always have a fully-stocked first aid kit on site.

    What other accidental hazards should I be aware of?


    As well as liquid spills, large build-ups of any residual items can become a problem. Use industrial vacuum cleaners to deal with dust deposits and ensure all areas are well ventilated to prevent gas vapours from collecting and potentially forming hazardous compounds.

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