Working in a chemical plant exposes employees to numerous hazards—chemical spills are among those hazards. The level of danger a chemical spill creates depends on a variety of factors including the type of substance, where and on what surface the spill occurred, and how much ventilation is in the area. Serious spills can seriously injure and even kill workers and innocent victims, which will require the expertise of a Florida OSHA defense lawyer. This article will discuss the dangers of chemical spills and how to respond to a chemical spill.

Spills Expose Employees to Dangers

Chemical spills expose workers, the local community, and the environment to a number of dangerous hazards. Immediate action must be taken when chemical spills occur. The mixing of incompatible materials creates and releases toxic chemicals and gases. An explosion at a facility containing flammable and combustible liquids (i.e., cleaners, thinners, solvents) can burn workers and spread quickly throughout a facility. Flammable vapor and toxic thick black smoke can also pose health risks and can also can kill workers.

Spill Prevention

Prevention is always the first step in hazard mitigation and elimination. Every employee should be trained to properly handle chemicals, which includes procedures for storing, labeling, transporting, and disposing of hazardous chemicals. Employees should familiarize themselves with every hazard by reviewing the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for each chemical before handling. The MSDS identifies each chemical and gives handling, storage, and emergency instructions for that particular chemical. Workers must also wear the proper protective gear when handling chemicals. Materials such as absorbents and special kits should be easily accessible and highly visible.

Responding to a Spill

Every plant should have written spill response procedures that detail the steps to take when a spill occurs. These procedures should be communicated to employees who will directly handle chemicals in their work tasks or during a cleanup. Within the plan, outline your methods for spill prevention, containment and evacuation procedures, proper ventilation, accessing medical care, and reporting requirements. Consult with a Florida OSHA defense attorney for advice on recordkeeping compliance. Procedures should detail employee responsibilities and instructions for using equipment, cleanup, and disposal of substances. Other important elements include:

  • Appropriate protective clothing
  • Safety and fire suppression equipment
  • Cleanup materials required for spill cleanup and instructions for use
  • Evacuation zones
  • First aid kit and procedures

Even the most seasoned technicians can spill chemicals, so it’s important to have regular drills to reinforce the details of company response plans.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.