In industrial workplaces, spills sometimes happen. Considering the range of materials and potential hazards, you can’t just throw some universal absorbent pads over the puddle like some kind of industrial newspaper. You need to follow a measured procedure to keep people safe and minimize damage. Whether your spill is just a little tap water or nuclear bio-waste, four principle steps can help you craft a universal approach to all spills.
- Identify What Is Spilling
The first instance in a spill is to make it stop. Shut off or seal whatever is leaking and go from there. This instinct is wrong and dangerous. Industrial settings have enough inherent danger that step one always has to be identifying the substance that is spilling. Only then can you take appropriately safe actions. Cleaning lubricating oil is a different animal from volatile fuels.
- Stop the Spill
One you know what you’re fighting, you can take moves to stop the spill. This part needs its own detailed procedure to ensure safety. Make sure proper gear is used, and always consider hazards such as exposure to power grids, volatility, flammability, acidity/basicity and toxicity. When these concerns are met, stop the spill however necessary. This might be using a shutoff valve, plugging a hole or simply rearranging storage containers to put the leak above the spill line.
Once the spill is stopped, there’s another false instinct that can get you into trouble. Containment is more important than cleanup. Even if your spill is something harmless like a water line, that spill can become dangerous in a hurry if it reaches a power line. The dangers are too varied to list, but containing the spill is paramount to safety, and it also reduces costly damages to the facility.
Finally, it is time to get to the cleaning part. An identified, safely contained spill can be treated appropriately. Never take safety shortcuts and always stick to regulated removal and disposal procedures. This will ensure you take important steps like neutralizing acids and bases before contacting them. If appropriate, this is the part where you can finally unpack the universal absorbent pads and restore your facility to its typical pristine shape. Make certain you decontaminate the spill site as needed before returning workers to the area.
Those are the four basic principles. Each one requires detailed writeups particular to the substances in your industry, and those procedures should be updated every time there is any change to your supply. Anything deemed hazardous should also come with a slew of government regulations that can help you avoid disastrous mistakes.