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Chemical Spills and How to Respond to It

Each day of our lives we can possibly come in contact with hazardous materials. In our everyday tasks and chores, chemical or hazardous materials are used to help us and make our tasks easier. Care must be exercised when handling chemicals, otherwise they can harm us and those around us. If you know the measures to take when there are accidental releases of these harmful materials, it could spell the difference between life and death. Dealing with hazardous materials is not a thing to be taken for granted because the tiniest release can become a real big problem.

Because gas is unseen, its release in the air around us can become very dangerous. You can save your life and the life of those around you if you have the right equipment and if you know what you should do. Even if the hazardous material released is just small, it still poses a dangerous situation and it must be dealt with immediately. You need not experience panic in cases like this, if you know the measure to take when it happens and you are able to act quickly to confine it.

It is beneficial to participate in a hazard communication program that is offered by your company. You can get all the information that you need so that you can understand the hazards of the chemicals you work with, chemical labeling and the material

safety data sheet (MSDS). Your facility should also have a ‘Spill Guidelines’ which you should be familiar with. It is good to have a copy of ‘Emergency Response Plan’ which you can ask from your supervisor.

‘First Response Awareness Level’ is a good training for those workers who will be the first to respond because they are the ones who will likely be there when spills, leaks, or accidental release of hazardous materials occur. The employees must be trained on reporting procedures to use to initiate emergency response. There is a training for the first group of workers who actually respond to spills, called the ‘First Responder Operations Level’ training. This training is for workers who are tasked to be the first on the scene so that they can secure and contain the issue.

An operations level first responder will go to the scene and review it so as to determine the next best step, when a hazardous spill occurs. The area may be evacuated, place barriers around the spill to prevent the contamination from spreading. To prevent other workers from the danger, signs and caution tapes can be set up so that it will be known to all that there was a chemical spill.

The spill need to be contained. Workers should use the equipment designated for that particular hazard type that has been released.

Never used sandbags for chemical spills because they absorb hazardous substances.

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Jason Brown

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