There are many hazardous substances used in workplaces. If these substances are uncontrollably released, they can have devastating consequences for personnel, premises or the environment.
A Spill Kit can be used to control the hazardous substances should they spill or leak. But you need to know how to use them.
What is a Spill Kit?
A Spill Kit is a set of equipment that is designed to remove hazardous substances quickly and efficiently should they spill. They are intended to be used on small spills or leaks of a variety of substances.
The materials within a Spill Kit can be used to limit the spread of the substance so it can be neutralized and disposed of.
Contents of Spill Kits
What is a Spill Kit comprised of? Although different Spill Kits will comprise of specific materials to deal with specific hazards, the contents of kits are generally as follows:
- A bin to dispose of contaminated materials
- Disposable PPE:
- Safety goggles
- Disposable gloves
- Disposable waste bags
- Labels, to indicate the contents of the waste bags
- Caution tape
- Twist ties
- Absorbent socks, pads or pillows
Spill Kits should be inspected every six months to ensure they’re replenished and up to date.
What is the Primary Use for a Spill Kit?
Spill Kits are found in workplaces, wherever hazardous substances are present.
These can range from warehouses where they’re being stored, to laboratories where they’re being used. Places like mechanic’s garages and workshops should have them due to the amounts of diesel or petrol on site.
They can also be found in healthcare environments where there is a heightened risk of harm, and places like construction sites, commercial kitchens and restaurants.
What is the primary use for a Spill Kit in these workplaces? To neutralize the threat of harmful substances spreading to other areas.
How to Use a Spill Kit
All hazardous spills should be handled by personnel who are properly trained to do so, and who have the relevant equipment.
Steps for Using a Spill Kit
- Call for medical help if anyone has been injured by the spill. Call for the fire brigade if there is a fire or the spill is large
- Check you have enough material to deal with the size of the spill
- Put up caution tape to warn people
- Protect any floor drains with spill socks
- Don PPE
- Place absorbents onto the spill. Start on the outside of the spill and move towards the middle
- Collect absorbents in a bag. Label bag as hazardous
- Use extra caution in regards to shards of glass or chemical fumes
- Decontaminate the area with disinfectant and spill pads
- Collect the pads in the same labelled bag as before
- Remove PPE and place in the bag. Seal with a twist tie
- Make sure to replenish the kit
For more information regarding emergency response and spill control, you can visit the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.
Spill Kit Used For
Types of hazardous substances at work include:
- Corrosive chemicals
- Toxic substances
Suppliers of products that contain hazardous substances must put hazard symbols on containers, which provide you with important safety information. These hazard symbols look like this:
Spill Kit up against
Specific types of hazardous substance you may come across include:
- Alkaline substances
- Oils, diesel and petrol products
- Bodily fluids
In addition to these product labels, employers must also provide information in the workplace. These include hazard symbols that can be placed on walls, machines and in all the areas where hazardous substances are handled. These symbols look like this:
Hazardous substances range from things that can poison you, catch fire, or damage the respiratory system if breathed in. They can pose slipping hazards or even a threat to life.
For a wider look at hazard symbols, visit the European Commission website.
Types of Spill Kits
There are a variety of Spill Kits available depending on the substance.
Your workplace’s Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) risk assessment will identify potential hazards and prepare you for dealing with the spilled substances.
What are the Main Types of Spill Kit?
The main Spill Kits available are:
- Biohazard and Laboratory
- Oil and Fuel
- Maintenance and Universal
- Specialized Spill Response Kits:
- Spill Kits for Vehicles
- Mini Spill Kits
- Mobile Spill Kits
Spill Kits in Healthcare
Within a healthcare setting, there are a number of specific Spill Kits utilized. The substances found in these settings could include bodily fluids and drugs.
Hospitals have high numbers of staff, visitors and patients who are at risk.
What are the main types of Spill Kit found in hospitals? These include:
- Chemical Spill Kits
- Body Fluid Spill Kit
- Urine and Vomit Spill Kits
- Chemotherapy Spill Kits
- Blood Spill Kits
- Biohazard Spill Kits
For a course on how to use Bodily Fluid Spill Kits, visit the Human Focus website.
When hazardous substances are spilled, they create a variety of consequences, particularly if they are not cleaned up appropriately. These consequences are:
Exposure to hazardous substances can have negative health effects on anyone in the vicinity, and those in the wider area if the spill is allowed to spread.
Short-term health effects involve things like:
- Skin and eye irritation
- Physical illness
- Chemical burns
- Spills can also present a slipping hazard, which can lead to bruises and broken bones
- Long-term effects involve serious illness such as cancer, or debilitating diseases
This can include direct costs, such as fines for breaches in environmental and health and safety legislation, and the cost of cleaning up the spill itself. As well as indirect costs, such as damage to an organization’s reputation, and the increased cost of insurance.
If a spill gets into the wider environment it can have devastating effects on ecosystems, meaning it can destroy plants and wildlife. It can also impact things like groundwater, causing it to become unsafe for human consumption, or poison the land itself, making it unsafe or unable to produce crops.
This information should help you answer the question: what is a Spill Kit? A hazardous substance can cause considerable harm, but it can be dealt with if you have the means and the knowhow to counteract the threat of spillage.
For a course on how to clean hazardous substances, visit the Human Focus website.