When you carry Class 3 Flammable Liquids at your workplace you have a legal obligation to have a spill containment system in place. In this blog we’ll look at the 6 essential elements of a spill kit (and containment procedure) to help you meet your obligations under Section 357 of the WHS Regulations (containing and managing spills).
The first thing your kit needs are materials for containing the spill and preventing it from spreading. This may consist of sorbent pads, rolls, matting, pillows and socks as well as materials for blocking a hole or leaking machine. Consider including:
- Socks — can be wrapped around drums or machines.
- Pillows — absorb large amounts of liquid.
- Pads and rolls — easily dispensed so you only use what you need.
- Sealant - plugging compound to temporarily seal a punctured chemical container.
- Granular Sorbent - usually fire resistant and often made from recycled and biodegradable materials.
- Sorbent Skimmer Bags - for soaking up oil off water. These bags usually float even when fully saturated.
The containment materials you choose will depend on the type of chemicals likely to be involved. Some universal sorbents will absorb both water-based and oil-based hazardous liquids including solvents, coolants, cutting fluids and lubricants.
IMPORTANT: In laboratories and production areas that may create a mix of fluids, you may also require a colour-coded testing strip to determine what chemicals are involved in the spill.
Next, you’ll need the equipment, tools and utensils to actually conduct the cleanup. Because you are dealing with flammable liquids make sure you don’t include any tools or implements that could spark. You may need:
- Dustpans and brushes.
- Spark-proof shovels.
- Hard-bristled brooms.
We also recommend having high-vis warning signs, witches’ hats, and barricading tape to rope-off and isolate the area.
Your spill kit will need some type of container to hold the spilled chemicals as well as the soiled utensils. Depending on the quantities of chemicals you carry you should consider:
- Buckets and pails (with lids).
- Plastic drums.
- Wheelie bins.
- Fold-out PVD carry bags.
- Heavy duty plastic bags with ties.
It’s also advisable to have labels for creating identification markers on the waste materials, this will alert disposal crews to the flammable hazards.
4. PPE and safety gear
Your spill kit will require some type of personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety gear. The PPE you choose will be based on the recommendations of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical and directly relate to their health and exposure hazards.
Your kit may require:
- Chemical resistant gloves and boots.
- Aprons, protective coveralls, mittens and boot covers.
- Chemical resistant eye guards or face shields.
- Breathing apparatus.
- Fire extinguishers and blankets
REMEMBER: PPE is only effective when fitted correctly, so consider the workers most likely to be responding to an emergency
When we say procedures, we don’t mean a 25 page manual. We mean something simple — like a laminated checklist — for workers to read before they rush toward a hazardous chemical spill. Procedures should have:
- Hazard warnings. Remind clean-up crews of the potential fire, explosion and exposure hazards.
- PPE requirements. A list of essential PPE that must be worn (eg, gloves, boots) before attempting to begin the clean-up.
- Safety checklist. (Eg, never work alone, shut off electricity and pilot lights, check area for ignition sources, rope off area).
- Notification list. (Eg, names and details of emergency contacts — emergency services, company management, internal).
A worker forgets their face shield and grabs one from the nearest spill kit — anything in ‘kit’ form is notoriously vulnerable to being borrowed and broken. Don’t forget to regularly check the integrity of your spill kit for:
- Items that are missing (eg, workers from another department borrow the brooms/utensils and don’t put them back).
- Items that are damaged (eg, a worker uses some of the gear to clean a small spill — not wanting to tell their supervisor about the spill, the soiled equipment is returned to the spill kit instead of being thrown away).
- Items that are deteriorated. (eg, a spill kit is created and 5 years pass, some of the items are now out-of-date and unusable).
You don’t want to have a fuel spill to deal with and then discover your spill kit is inadequate and then have to waste time tracking down PPE and utensils.
One of the most effective ways you can achieve chemical compliance is to store Class 3 Flammable Liquids in a safety cabinet that has been manufactured to Australian Safety Standards. Flammable liquids cabinets have a light tight spill containment sump, enabling you to safely catch leaks and spills before they create fire and exposure hazards. To learn more about how to safely store flammable liquids, please download our new eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. It’s completely free.