First Response to Chemical Spills
There is hazardous materials we come in contact with everyday. A lot of tasks that we do from home cleaning to powering our cars use chemicals or hazardous materials. If care is not exercised in using these things, no matter how useful they are, they can be very dangerous too. Knowing how to handle the accidental release of chemicals can save lives. You should never take hazardous materials lightly because even if there is just a tiny release in the air, it can become a major issue.
Because gas is unseen, its release in the air around us can become very dangerous. Saving your life and the life of others is possible if you have the right equipment and you know the right procedures to follow. A release of hazardous material, no matter how small, is a potentially dangerous situation and must be dealt with the soonest possible time and with efficiency. You need not experience panic in cases like this, if you know the measure to take when it happens and you are able to act quickly to confine it.
It is beneficial to participate in a hazard communication program that is offered by your company. You can get all the information that you need so that you can understand the hazards of the chemicals you work with, chemical labeling and the material safety data sheet (MSDS). Your facility should also have a ‘Spill Guidelines’ which you should be familiar with. You can also ask your supervisor where you can get a copy of the ‘Emergency Response Plan.’
‘First Response Awareness Level’ is a good training for those workers who will be the first to respond because they are the ones who will likely be there when spills, leaks, or accidental release of hazardous materials occur. It is important for employees to know reporting procedures to initiate emergency response. There is a training for the first group of workers who actually respond to spills, called the ‘First Responder Operations Level’ training. This training is for workers who are tasked to be the first on the scene so that they can secure and contain the issue.
An operations level first responder will go to the scene and review it so as to determine the next best step, when a hazardous spill occurs. Evacuation and placing barriers around the spill can be done to prevent the spreading of the chemicals. To prevent other workers from the danger, signs and caution tapes can be set up so that it will be known to all that there was a chemical spill.
The spill need to be contained next. Workers should use the equipment designated for that particular hazard type that has been released.
Sandbags absorb hazardous substances and should never be used to stop spills.