Nearly every company that uses, stores, transports, or otherwise handles chemicals will experience a spill at some point in time. It may consist of nothing more than a couple drops of spilled motor oil, or it can be more severe, such as the massive 7,5000-gallon leak of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) that left hundreds of thousands of West Virginia residents without clean water for days. Whether it’s minor or severe, though, you’ll want to avoid making the following mistakes when cleaning chemical spills.
Adding Chemicals To The Spill
It’s not uncommon for workers to clean spilled chemicals using other chemicals, such as bleach or similar cleaning agents. However, the mixture of two or more chemicals can change the composition of the spill, potentially making it even more dangerous. Unless the a product is designed specifically for cleaning the respective spilled chemical, it should not be used.
Failure To Notify Nearby Workers
Another all-too-common mistake workers make when attempting to clean a spilled chemical in the workplace is failure to notify other workers and personnel. The Occupational Safety and Healthy Administration (OSHA) mandates that all nearby workers are informed in the event of a chemical spill. This is done to protect their safety and to help control the spill.
Not Acting Fast Enough
When a chemical spill occurs in the workplace, time is of the essence. The longer you wait, the larger the spill will become. And larger spills require more time, energy, and resources to clean. Act fast to contain and ultimately clean the spilled chemical. This is why it’s important to have a step-by-step plan in place on how to clean spilled chemicals; otherwise, workers are left scratching their heads regarding the best course of action.
Not Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Before you attempt to clean spilled chemical, you should first don the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). This gear is used to protect workers from the potentially harmful effects of exposure to chemicals. Failure to gear up in PPE before cleaning or otherwise handling a chemical spill could place the worker at risk for serious injury or illness.
Failure To Remove Contaminated Clothing
If a hazardous chemical leaks or spills on a worker’s clothing, he or she should immediately remove the contaminated clothing. Even small amounts can place worker at risk for injury and/or illness. The bottom line is that all contaminated clothing should be removed promptly to ensure the safety of workers.