What Are The Main Types Of Spill Kits?

Originally published June 15, 2022 12:56:43 AM, updated June 15, 2022

If you’re carrying multiple substances or hazardous chemicals in your business, you will need to put in place safety measures to protect your organisation against leaks and spills. Whether it’s drums of oil or a few containers of methylated spirits, every Australian workplace that carries hazardous chemicals needs to contain and manage spillage. This is a key requirement of the Australian Standards — and a key duty under WHS Regulations. But when you’re carrying various types of substances, across different dangerous goods classes, how do you equip your staff with the right types of spill kits for each situation? In this post, we’ll breakdown the main types of spill kits and explain what substances are applicable for each. We’ll also look at the basic safety guidelines that apply to chemical spill control and clean-ups, so you can create a hazard-free workplace.

Spill Kit Types

When you’re choosing spill kits for your business, you have to consider both the type of chemical product or substance that you’ll be cleaning up, as well as the quantity of the product which could be accidentally released.

spill kit - worker putting wipes in waste bag - Image 15-1

Spill kits are available in ready-made packs, which cater for various types of chemicals, situations and chemical capacities.

Generally, there’s 4 types of spill kits on the market. These are:

  • Oil and fuel (hydrocarbon) spill kits
  • Chemical (HAZCHEM) spill kits
  • Marine spill kits
  • Universal spill kits

Within each type of spill kit there are a tailored set of materials and equipment, to assist with the successful containment, clean-up and disposal of a chemical leak or spill.

REMEMBER: Never use a spill kit that’s not specifically designated for use with that particular chemical product. You should also maintain a roster of spill kit inspections and maintenance, to ensure that all spill kits are refilled after use.

chemical spill kit in use with absorbents on floor-1-1

Your spill kit is designed to contain the spill with booms and absorb the chemicals with pads, pillows or floor sweep.

The contents of a spill kit may include options such as:

  • Spill absorbents
  • Containment booms
  • Spill mats
  • Floor sweep
  • Brooms, dustpans, shovels or other equipment
  • Waste bags and ties
  • Containers for split chemical packages
  • Wheelie bin or carry bag for transport of spill kit materials
  • Gloves and other PPE
  • Instructions on how to use the kit

IMPORTANT: We recommend conducting spill kit training, in addition to creating procedures for the clean-up of chemical spills. If staff aren’t nominated as part of the spill response team, they don’t have to undergo this type of specialty training.

What Are The Spill Kit Capacities?

The volume of chemical that you can safely clean-up with your spill kit is determined by the absorbency of your spill absorbents, mats and floor sweep — as well as the amount of materials in your kit.

spill kit image - various absorbents for drum spill-1

Your spill kit should be able to contain and clean-up the largest possible spill in that work area.

When working out your spill kit requirements, make sure that you have enough spill absorbents to soak up the largest potential spill. This will be determined by a spill risk assessment.

Your spill risk assessment should include considerations such as:

  • What type of chemical could be released? refer to the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) of each chemical substance onsite to see the class, properties and hazards associated with the substance.
  • How quickly can the chemical spread? is the chemical in a granulated, solid or liquid form? Is there bunded storage and floor bunding in place?
  • What circumstances could create an accidental release? are pumping and decanting of chemicals allowed? Do work tasks increase the risk of spillage?
  • What’s the greatest volume of chemical that could spill at one given time? looking at the circumstances which could create a chemical spill, what is the maximum volume of spillage that your staff will have to contain?
  • Which areas could be affected by the spill? make sure your risk assessment examines the potential of a spill affecting other work areas of the business, as well as the outdoor areas (including the pollution of waterways through drains and contamination of the natural environment through chemicals penetrating soil).
  • What primary and secondary containment is in place? are your chemicals handled and stored in a way that reduces the likelihood and impact of a spill? Are containers compliant and fixed with lids? Do chemical stores feature bunding? Are staff training in chemical safety?

IMPORTANT: We suggest following our 4-step process for risk management: Identify – Assess – Control – Sustain. This process encourages workplaces to clearly identify hazards in any area of the business that handles, stores or transfers chemicals, before assessing the level of risk. The severity of chemical risk is calculated on the consequence and likelihood of the hazard occurring.

Sizes Of Spill Kits

Ready-made spill kits can range in size from small 25 litre kits to 240 litre options. However, you can use your discretion and create a spill kit that is completely tailored to suit the needs of your operations.

As long as your spill response team can contain the spillage (with the kits that you have onsite), your spill will be classed as a minor spill. A major spill is one that requires assistance from emergency services. It occurs when an accidental chemical release is so large or complex that it can’t be adequately contained and managed by your own organisation.

REMEMBER: If you are facing a major spill, you’re obligated to notify emergency services of the incident as soon as possible. Under WHS Regulations, you’re also legally obligated to notify the regulator in your state or territory of the spill. The notification must be in writing.

Kit Installation

You should install spill kits within easy reach of any work area that may be susceptible to a leak or spill. Manufacturer’s recommendations for the placement of spill kits include being placed in clearly visible and easily accessible areas, no more than 30 metres from the site when a potential spill or leak could occur.

flammable liquids drum spilling out

If your spill assessment identifies a potential spill location, then place a spill kit within 30 m of that area.

In some workplaces, this could mean the installation of several kits to handle either the capacity of spilled chemicals or the various types of chemicals that may be accidentally released.

Selecting The Correct Kit

First and foremost, you should be purchasing spill kits that are specifically designed for the type of chemical that you’re looking to contain and clean-up. We’ll now explain what types of chemicals are suitable for the various types of spill kits.

Hydrocarbon Spill Kits

While oil and fuel may be cleaned up with a chemical (HAZCHEM) spill kit, if the hydrocarbons are released in a wet environment, you should choose a hydrocarbon spill kit.

The materials in this type of spill kit are specifically made to soak up hydrocarbons, whilst repelling water. This makes them an effective tool in the containment, clean-up of oil and fuel spills.

Due to the properties of oil and fuel, the materials also offer maximum absorbency, and are ideal for use with a range of oil-based substances including petrochemicals, petroleum-based solvents, plant oils and seed oils.

Chemical Spill Kits

If you’re carrying hazardous chemicals in your workplace, it’s safe to say that you need at least one HAZCHEM spill kits installed in your organisation.

Chemical spill kits are compatible with most harsh chemical products, such as paints, glues, pesticides and disinfectants. However, they can also soak up hydrocarbons, such as engine oil, motor fuel and diesel, as long as the absorbent materials and equipment are suitable for use with that particular chemical product.

contents of a chemical spill kit

Our chemical spill kit includes containment booms, nitrile gloves, pillows, pads and floor sweep.

STOREMASTA chemical spill kits come complete with a Zeolite floor sweep that acts as a fast-absorbing granule that can be quickly applied to chemical spills. The Zeolite floor sweep is generally suitable for use with most chemicals and liquids, including mild acids, bases, solvents and ammonia. It can also be used with human or animal fluids, and commercial liquid waste.

REMEMBER: Check with your supplier or manufacturer to ensure that your spill absorbents are suitable for use with your particular chemical product. If you don’t choose absorbents that are compatible, you could be putting the safety of your staff at risk due to chemical reactivity or ineffectiveness of the absorbent itself.

Marine

For operations out at sea, a marine spill kit is an essential tool to manage chemical spills. Leaks and spills can occur in a variety of ways, from leaking equipment to leaking of hazardous chemical waste.

Marine spill kits are designed to repel water (similar to hydrocarbon kits), which makes them suitable for use on boats, ships, docks and re-fuelling stations.

Universal

The universal spill kit, as the name suggests, has a wide range of applications. Not suitable for use in wet environments — or with many harsh chemicals — the universal spill kit is a useful containment and clean-up tool suitable for use with a range of chemical substances such as coolants, fuel, oil, agricultural chemicals and pesticides. Generally, hydrocarbons and water-based liquids are suitable for use with the Natura-Sorb floor sweep that is contained in the STOREMASTA universal spill kits. However, they can also be used for cleaning up water after minor flooding. Always check the SDS of your chemicals before you install a universal kit as highly corrosive and highly oxidizing agents aren’t suitable for this type of absorbent material.

See the below table for a comparison of spill kit types:

Spill kit type Suitable chemicals
Oil & Fuel / Hydrocarbon spill kit Hydrocarbons, oil-based substances, petrochemicals, petroleum-based solvents, plant oils and seed oils.
Chemical / HAZCHEM spill kit Many chemicals including mild acids, bases, solvents, ammonia, paints, glues, pesticides and disinfectants.
Marine spill kit Fuel, oil and other chemical substances in the marine environment.
Universal / General purpose spill kit Hydrocarbons, water-based liquids, coolants, fuel, oil, pesticides, agricultural chemicals. 

 

Choosing The Correct Kit For Your Work Area

As we’ve mentioned in our post, it’s so important to understand the various types of spill kits, as well as the compatibility of materials included in the kit. When dealing with leaks or spillage, whether it’s blood, flood water, petrol or highly corrosive materials, the type and size of your spill kit will determine how successful your clean-up operation is.

We recommend having the right equipment in place, as well as monitoring and maintaining your spill kits to ensure that they are always refilled and in good working order. Our team also suggest formulating a comprehensive spill prevention, control and management system so you can reduce the risk of chemical spills in your workplace. To learn more about minimising the risk of hazardous chemical spills, why not download our free guide? Our eBook will explain the processes involved in the prevention and management of chemical spills, so you can create a safer and more compliant workplace.

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Melissa is STOREMASTA’s Marketing Manager and Dangerous Goods Storage Specialist. Focused on helping organisations reduce chemical risk and improve efficiencies, Melissa is dedicated to raising awareness about the safe storage and management of dangerous goods.

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