This past week, on September 18th, some peroxide spilled at the Icahan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, located in lower Manhattan, New York. 150 people were evacuated from the building. The news report did not mention the size of the spill or the actions taken to clean it up. It also did not mention the concentration of the peroxide. However, we can tell you that most peroxides are oxidizers, can be toxic and may have the potential for skin corrosion or irritation. (See the SDS linked to the right.)
Incidents like this happen all the time. Things spill. And then the spilled material needs to be cleaned up. There are some safety tips to consider in the clean-up of a hazardous material for your protection, and to reduce the risk of exposure to others. Please keep in mind that your workplace may have procedures in place for spill clean-up. You should always follow those procedures.
Self-Safety: One of the first points about clean-up of any hazardous material, is to make sure you are safe from the hazards of the material. A good way to accomplish this is to know the hazards of the materials to which you may be exposed before anything bad happens. You can do this by reading the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for those materials. Focus on the hazards listed in Section 2, Hazard Identification and recommendations for spill clean-up in Section 6, Accidental Release Measures. A sample of an SDS is linked to the right if you don’t have access to one to review.
Isolate the Scene: In the previous story about the peroxide spill, people evacuated the area. Do what you need to do to make sure no one is harmed by the materials. If it is required to evacuate (found in the SDS, Section 6), let anyone in the area know, and get out, leading the way. If it is not required to evacuate, but it is not safe for others to be in the area of the spill, barricade it or stand guard to keep people away.
Notifications: Someone needs to know about the spill. If you have evacuated, call 911, your Supervisor, or emergency response team after you have evacuated and are a safe distance away. If you are standing guard to keep people away from the hazards, you can make notification from there, or have someone else report the spill and then get back to you to let you know that help is on the way.
Stop the Spill: If you have been trained to stop a release, and if the hazardous material is still being released, then take action to control or stop the spill. If you have not been trained to stop the spill, only follow the first three steps and stay safe.
Spills can be stopped in a number of ways. This information should be in the SDS. Follow the procedures as you were trained to do to control the incident. Examples of methods of stopping spills can include:
- Turning off a gas valve if it can be done from a safe distance.
- Turning off a valve releasing liquid from a line if it can be done from a safe distance.
- Damming or diking areas to contain the product to a small area, if it can be done without contact with the material.
Disposal of the Spilled Material: The methods and manner of disposal vary with the type of material present, the amount of material present, and your site’s waste disposal systems. How to dispose of spills can be found in the SDS, Section 13, Disposal Considerations.
Did you notice a reoccurring theme in this week’s safety tip? If you work with or near hazardous materials, read and learn from the SDS for those materials. If you are expected to take actions following a spill or release of hazardous materials, get training.
Need training? Want to know more about spill clean-up? SCM provides First Responder Awareness with Spill Clean-up at Hazmatschool.com. Use the discount code Fall2019 to get a 20% discount off our low price of $79.00! Need a HAZWOPER Refresher? Use the code FALLREF to receive a 40% discount.