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Absorbent Materials & Spill Kit Refills

Need help? Need help? Controlling dangerous spills is crucial. Learn how! Control Dangerous Spills with a Huge Range of 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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Absorbent Materials Guide

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.

What are absorbent materials used for?

Any type of spill can have dangerous repercussions if it is left for too long, as slipping over is the “single most common cause of major injury in UK workplaces”, according to HSE. They report that around 40% of major injuries are down to a person slipping over, and these can also lead to other, more serious accidents, such as people falling from a height. In essence, there are only three elements required for a fall – a slippery floor, the contaminating liquid and the feet of a passer-by.

It is easy to imagine how quickly a leak could escalate into something more serious, but there are many ways to prevent an unwanted chemical spill or oil spill with our wide range of sorbent products. The best time to buy is in advance so that you’ll have the right type and amount of equipment in the right place as soon as it is needed.

Where are absorbent materials used?

Once you have assessed which types of liquids you may need to contain, you also need to think about the types of spills that could occur. Different applications call for different products, so let’s look at some of the most common spills;

Occasional drips. If you can identify the source of a leak and it tends to occur in exactly the same place, one of our Sorbent Pillows can trap even hazardous chemicals before you make a repair.
Localised leaks and spills. When the spill is small, you can spread absorbent powder over its surface to soak up the liquid. It then takes just moments to sweep away, leaving your workplace with very little downtime.
Tabletop spills. Scattering granules on a table may not be practical, so instead, you can invest in our flexible Sorbent Pads to lift away a huge range of hazardous chemicals and oils.

How do absorbing materials work?

All spill control equipment works to absorb any liquids it comes into contact with. Each has different strengths, and the right ones for your business will depend on their intended use.

Clay - Clay is an adaptable spill control method that occurs naturally, so it is especially good at mopping up grease, oil spills and water. Furthermore, clay is easy to apply, great value for your money and works quickly.

Granules - Depending on the type of granules you choose, there is a range of purposes for which you can use them. Our Powder Absorbent Granules transform liquids and semi-liquids into a solid mass for easy removal.

Pads - Available for oil, chemical or water spills, pads are strong and versatile. They won’t break up when wet, and you can pick them up quickly for removal after use.


What is the best way to dispose of absorbent pads or materials once they have been used?

Whether you have used a boom, clay or a roll, any absorbent that contains a leak is likely to be considered hazardous. Therefore, you have a duty of care to dispose of them safely in line with government guidelines.

What is an oil adsorbent?

Also known an oleophilic, adsorbent materials work to clean up oil spills by adhering the liquid to their surface.

What is the best way to tackle future spills in the workplace?

To be properly prepared for future spills, you need to consider the types of liquid you are keeping on site and in what quantities. Once you have made an assessment, you can buy the type of absorbent material you require and keep it close to the possible spill site.

We have 100’s of actionable Chemical and COSHH Safety tips to help you and your business stay within the law. Read them here in our What is COSHH and How to do a COSHH Assessment guides.