Incidental & Emergency Spills: Knowing the Difference and the Appropriate Steps to Take
There are two types of spills, incidental and emergency. Incidental spills are very common in facilities and do not pose a substantial hazard to those exposed. The first step to taking the appropriate measures to clean up any kind of spill is to understand the type of spill that has occurred and where the spill occurred.
Incidental or emergency, the first priority of spill response always is life safety. Giving your employees a complex list of scenarios to determine if a spill is incidental or if it is an emergency can be complicated and further delay response. The Response Plan needs to be practical and easily understood by all team members.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration under the US Department of Labor, workers are not required to have a specified level or amount of training to clean up small, non-emergency spills – they just need to be able to recognize the hazards and be able to follow the prescribed plan that the facility has outlined to safely accomplish the task. OSHA’s Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standards (in general industry, 29 CFR 1910.120; and construction 29 CFR 1926.65) established health and safety requirements for employers engaged in these operations, as well as responses to emergencies involving releases of hazardous substances. HAZWOPER requires that employers follow specific work policies, practices, and procedures to protect their workers potentially exposed to hazardous substances. The standards provide employers with the information and training criteria necessary to ensure workplace health and safety during hazardous waste, emergency response, and cleanup operations involving hazardous substances.
OSHA defines an emergency spill as one that causes unsafe exposure to a toxic chemical, requires workers to evacuate the area, poses immediately dangerous to life and health conditions, presents a fire or explosion hazard or requires other immediate attention because of danger. Exposures to hazardous substances pose a wide range of acute (i.e., immediate) and chronic (i.e., long-term) health effects. These may include chemical burns, sensitization, irritation, and other toxic effects that may lead to death. Hazardous substance releases can also result in fires, explosions, high-energy events, and/or toxic atmospheres depending on the physical properties and health hazards of the released substance(s).
If you are facing a spilled load of fuel in the middle of the night, or require assistance with an abandoned or contaminated site, our highly trained team of professionals at Lone Star Hazmat can quickly assess the situation, work effectively with first responders or other officials and flawlessly execute through all phases of the cleanup.
We specialize in responding to product transfer, environmental remediation, oil/gas/salt water release, roadside emergencies and are contracted with the Texas Department of Transportation. Through our strategically located offices connected to a 24/7 Response Center, we can arrive at a spill site in as little as 20-25 minutes, and our average response time is typically half that of other responders. Visit our Contact page to find a location near you.