As part of lab safety training, all laboratory workers should be adequately equipped to handle spills. Even with proper training and prevention, occasional laboratory spills are inevitable.
Chemical spills can be disruptive and hazardous, often damaging materials and forcing evacuations. However, an efficient response to spills will drastically reduce their potentially harmful effects on the environment, laboratory, and workers.
This guide will offer a roadmap to appropriate spill response.
Preparation for lab chemical spills begins long before a spill occurs. Your spill kit should be readily available, visible, and secure.
Below are some of the items your kit should include:
Before taking any action to clean a spill, you must determine the type of spill that has occurred. Minor chemical spills can often be cleaned in-house, but major chemical spills will need to be handled by a professional spill response team.
Many times, minor spills can be safely cleaned up by laboratory workers. However, you must be meticulous when handling even minor spills.
Use the following steps as a guide to design a spill cleanup procedure.
A major spill poses a risk to health, safety, and the environment and is dangerous to clean. Laboratory workers should report the spill to the emergency responders and not attempt to clean it themselves.
Follow the steps below to safely respond to a major spill
Lab chemical spills can also result in contamination. Cases of contamination should be managed as quickly as possible, while another member of the laboratory follows the appropriate steps for handling the spill.
In the event of contamination to the eyes or body, remove any contaminated clothing. Flush the contaminated areas with water for at least 15 minutes, and seek medical attention for anyone injured or contaminated.
Include incidents of contamination in your spill report.
Although they can be frustrating and even potentially dangerous, you should look at all spills as learning experiences for preventing future spills. Plan ahead with local emergency responders to maintain a good relationship avoid miscommunication.
Discuss the lab safety guidelines and spill procedures with each member of the laboratory regularly. All workers should be trained with the laboratory’s chemical hygiene plan to ensure they can properly use their safety equipment.
Proper laboratory equipment and functional design are crucial for reducing the incidence of spills. Design your lab using lab furniture to suit your needs.
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