Editor’s note: Welcome to the 10th post in our series on Absorbent Training. We hope you find the series to be helpful in explaining the basics of absorbents.
It’s not uncommon to find spill supplies locked up or kept in remote locations. That makes about as much sense as wings on a turnip. The point of having a spill kit is being able to grab it to respond to a spill quickly. So it stands to reason that if you’ve gone to the expense of purchasing spill supplies and training people to use them, they should be accessible and ready to use, right? That means the best place for a spill kit is close to where a spill is most likely to occur…
There are different schools of thought on how to choose spill kits and where to put them. Some facilities determine the volume of their “worst-case scenario” spill and buy one large kit that can be wheeled to wherever it is needed. Other facilities look at the spill most likely to happen in each area and buy several kits to position throughout the facility.
If we were starting from scratch, we’d consider spill kits for the following locations:
1. Production Lines / Manufacturing Areas
Hydraulic lines burst, buckets get knocked over and tanks and containers spring leaks. A spill kit on the wall or tucked under a workbench allows employees to respond quickly.
2. Loading Docks
Docks are busy places. It’s not uncommon for a forklift to graze a container and cause a spill. Even if that’s not a big issue, packages shift during transit, and you can never be too sure what’s going to happen when you open a trailer door. A spill kit at the loading dock means fast cleanup so things don’t back up.
3. Fuel Pumps
Nonretail, onsite fleet fueling pumps can be subject to SPCC and Stormwater Regulations. Spill supplies in these areas can help maintain compliance and keep spills out of drains and other sensitive areas.
4. Outdoor Storage Tanks
Bulk fluid transfers typically happen without a hitch, but if a connection fails or a hose breaks, the resulting spill can be pretty big. A spill kit stored near outdoor tanks can help quickly contain the spill and keep it from expanding.
5. Fluid Dispensing Stations
Pumps and drum faucets aren’t always the neatest ways to move fluids from one container to another, making small leaks and spills common in fluid dispensing areas. A spill kit containing small sheets of mat and wipers and a waste container for spent materials can help to keep these areas cleaner and neater.
Forklift operators are often the first people to discover a spill. And sometimes, the spill is caused by forklift operations. Tucking a small kit behind a seat or on the back of a forklift helps the operator contain a spill quickly until additional resources can be brought to the area.
It’s not always possible to spot a “bad” container before it’s put into a rack, and it may not leak for days or weeks — but when it does let loose, it’s nice to have a spill kit ready to tackle the mess.
OSHA’s chemical hygiene plan states that employers must “determine and implement control measures to reduce employee exposure to hazardous chemicals.” A spill kit is a great tool to have in a lab to help control a spill and reduce exposure risks.
9. Battery Storage Areas
Forklift charging areas are not often “showcased” areas of a facility. But OSHA’s powered industrial truck standard requires areas where batteries are stored to have provisions for taking care of electrolyte spills. A spill kit with neutralizer, goggles, gloves and an apron is a good way to be prepared.
10. Fleet Vehicles
The EPA requires any vehicle that is transporting hazardous waste to be prepared for spills that may occur during transport. Even if you’re not in the business of transporting hazardous waste, a leaky saddle tank can quickly create a big mess. Tucking a spill kit in the cab can help the driver quickly contain a spill until help arrives.
11. Maintenance Lockers
Think of a spill kit as a tool. Wherever hammers, wrenches, vacuums and other tools are kept, spill kits may be a good addition.
12. Waste Collection Areas
Not many facilities offer tours of their waste collection areas. Have you ever tried to empty a five-gallon bucket into a closed-head drum? Let’s just say, it’s not always the neatest process. And like any area where fluids are transferred, leaks and spills are bound to happen. Being prepared with spill supplies helps with good housekeeping efforts.
Not sure where to put a spill kit? Use a drawing of your facility to mark the location and types of liquids (and potential spills), as well as the quantity stored in each of those areas. This can provide a pretty accurate map of where to put a kit and what size may be needed. Then find the right spill kit for your needs.