Each spill response is unique, but there are still simple steps that first responders can take to keep themselves safe and ensure effective cleanup. The consequences of failing to contain a serious spill can be devastating for the environment. The results of coming into contact with dangerous chemicals or other substances can be devastating to the health of responders. That’s why anyone who plays a role in spill response should read on for a refresher on proper spill response procedures.
Step One: Assess the Risk
The top priority for any first responder should always be preserving human life. That includes their own lives. When assessing risks, first responders must consider the source of the spill or leak, the number and location of victims, and other unusual factors before determining a course of action. Only trained professionals can perform effective risk assessments, so if a spill occurs on company property and no staff members are trained in spill response, call a company like dfw power washing that can thoroughly assess the situation before approaching the affected area.
Step Two: Put On Protective Gear
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an essential tool for first responders. Respirators help to prevent lung damage from inhalants, while gloves and suits help to avoid skin contact with potentially toxic or hazardous substances. Inspect PPE before putting it on to make sure there are no holes or other obvious signs of wear, and exercise caution even when wearing protective equipment.
Step Three: Confine the Spill
The faster a spill can be contained, the smaller the affected area will be and the less work it will take to clean it up. First responders can place earthen dams or man-made dikes and cover drains to reduce water contamination. Only individuals trained in spill response should enter the area to place dams and dikes or take other confinement measures.
Step Four: Stop the Source of the Leak
If the spill is small, there may be no need for additional actions to stop the source. Larger leaks may need to be addressed after confining the damage. In some cases, this can be as simple as turning a shut-off valve. In others, advanced patch and repair tactics may be required. Common patch and repair materials include clay-based patches, epoxy sticks, pipe wraps, and tourniquets.
Step Five: Implement Cleanup
It’s only once the spill has been contained and the leak has been stopped that incident response teams have the time to evaluate the situation and figure out how to go about cleaning up the mess. The two primary methods for cleanup are vacuuming spills or using absorbent materials to move the source of contamination off-site.
Step Six: Decontaminate the Site
Once the spilled material has been removed, decontamination can begin. The decontamination zone, sometimes called a hazmat zone, will already be set up. Incident response teams will have to ensure that all contaminated materials are removed from the area.
Step Seven: File a Report
Spill reports must be filed with local, state, and federal agencies. These reports often include lists of materials used to contain the spill, site evaluations, medical reports, expense reports, and debriefing questionnaires.
The Bottom Line
Safety is key when it comes to containing potentially hazardous spills. Only trained first responders and incidence response personnel should be allowed on-site during this process.