When an acid spill occurs at your facility, do you know what to do?
Safely containing an acid spill requires preparedness on several different levels. To appropriately manage an acid spill, you need to have the right tools, the right safety training, and proper knowledge on the correct way to contain a spill.
The first step
Make sure your workers are trained to report spills, alert others, and evacuate the spill area immediately. Minimizing exposure to the spill decreases liability and clears the way for the cleanup crew. If a worker’s clothing has been contaminated by acid, he or she should remove the clothing and use the facility’s emergency shower. If the acid has splashed into the eyes, the person should also rinse his/her eyes for 15 minutes — but first ensure that the chemical is not water reactive.
Containing the spill
Anyone handling the cleanup process should wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Cleanup crew members should use gloves that are made of materials compatible with acids, such as thick nitrile or neoprene. Dike the spilled liquid as quickly as possible with an absorbent pad or absorbent pillow. An alternative solution is to use an acid neutralizer, which absorbs and solidifies the acid. Simply spread the neutralizer on the spill, working your way from the outside in, and mix the substances with a broom. An advantage of dry-powder acid neutralization is that it eliminates the need to use pH paper — the powder will change color when the spill is completely neutralized.
Once the acid is fully neutralized, use plastic tools such as scoops to transfer the material into a hazardous waste container. When the spill is safely contained, clearly label the container with the name of the substance and contact your local environmental services provider or follow your facility’s procedures for disposing of hazardous materials. Wash the spill surface with soap and water thoroughly before personnel reenter the area.
Acid spills are extremely hazardous and can result in serious injuries if they are not contained and cleaned up promptly and properly. By following the right procedures and having the right equipment on hand, you’ll be able to contain a dangerous spill without putting your employees at risk.