First Response to Chemical Spills
Each day of our lives we can possibly come in contact with hazardous materials. In our everyday tasks and chores, chemical or hazardous materials are used to help us and make our tasks easier. If care is not exercised in using these things, no matter how useful they are, they can be very dangerous too. If you know the measures to take when there are accidental releases of these harmful materials, it could spell the difference between life and death. 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.
If gas is released it is most dangerous because we cannot see it. If you have the right equipment and have the knowledge of what to do in case of an accidental release, then you can save your life and that of others too. There has to be an immediate action when hazardous gas, no matter how little, is released in the atmosphere. 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.
If your company has a hazard communication program, it is best to participate in it. In this program you will be learning about chemicals and how dangerous they are, chemical labeling and MSDS or materials safety data sheet. It is good to familiarize yourself with the ‘Spill Guidelines’ of your facility. The ‘Emergency Response Plan’ is very useful and is good to have a copy for you.
‘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. Reporting procedures to initiate emergency response must be part of the training of employees. There is a training for the first group of workers who actually respond to spills, called the ‘First Responder Operations Level’ training. This training for the first people on the scene is to enable them to secure and contain the issues.
When the first responder to a hazardous spill comes and looks at the issue, he then tries to determine what should be done next. The area may be evacuated, place barriers around the spill to prevent the contamination from spreading. 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.
Workers need to contain the spill. There are materials specifically determined for use in chemical spills for the type of hazard that has been released.
Sandbags absorb hazardous substances and should never be used to stop spills.