25. How to Clean Up a Spill

All EAS Laboratories that have chemicals have a Spills Absorbent two pail system. The absorbent in the top pail is a 1:1:1 by volume mixture of sand:kitty litter:sodium bicarbonate. There are two Ultra Clean labs in the department that are an exception to this rule, these labs use spill pillows to absorb spills. Be sure to check what type of a spill the pillows are for.

  1. If you have had a chemical spill the first thing you need to do is to determine the toxicity of the spill. If a highly corrosive acid or toxic chemical has been spilled outside of a fumehood, you need to don a respirator. You will find a respirator in the Chemical Spills Kit in your laboratory. When you call another person to assist you in the clean up of the spill, they too will need to don a respirator. The second person will need to go to another laboratory and borrow that lab’s Chemical Spills Kit. Whenever a respirator is used, it must be sterilized before being returned to the kit
  2. Wear all the protective equipment necessary to clean the spill up safety. Seal off the area so that others are not exposed to the fumes.
  3. All injured personnel take precedence over the spill. If there has been an injury, remove the person from the area of the spill and begin first aid. Call for help, i.e.: EAS Spills Designates all have First Aid Certification. If you have received a chemical splash, you must seek medical attention. Remember that the Worker’s Compensation forms will need to be filed within 72 hours.
  4. If there are no injured workers to attend to, proceed to surround the spill with the spill absorbent mix. View procedure
  5. Bag the residue using the heavy duty plastic bags inside the second pail. Use the appropriate tools to clean up the residue – if the spill was a flammable liquid – do not use metal dustpans that could create a spark. Move the broken glass or items with chemicals on them into the fumehood as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of airborne chemical contamination. Place the chemical abosorbent and broken glass into the heavy plastic bags and give the labeled, bagged residue to David Chesterman or Diane Caird. All chemical waste must be labeled and sent out for proper chemical disposal; never place solid waste into regular garbage and never pour liquid chemical waste down the drains. The chemical name must be written out in full, e.g.: Hydrochloric Acid not HCL.
  6. Replenish supplies used and sterilize all mask that were worn
  7. The Safety Officer will need to record and notify the Department and the Office of Environment Health & Safety about the accident. Any injuries stemming from the incident must be reported immediately to the Assistant Chair of the department. See EH&S Faculty/Department  Incident & Investigation Report
  8. The Safety Officer and the Lab Supervisor will review what happened in order that a repeat incidence will not occur.
  9. The Safety Officer will follow up the incidence to ensure that all recommendations to avoid a repeat accident have been completed. The Safety Officer will report to the Office of Environmental Health & Safety that all recommendations have been completed.

Incidents and spills will occur in labs – it’s how you deal with them that matter!