Question: We used to receive spill kits that included PPE such as aprons, gloves and goggles. Why don’t all spill kits include such items?
Answer: Spill kits should be appropriate for the types of spills that could occur in a given area. This includes not only the types and quantities of absorbents in the spill kit, but also the PPE and any other tools and equipment that may be used to respond.
For the safety of spill responders, it’s best to choose any personal protective equipment (PPE) to store in or near the spill kit only after performing risk assessments and identifying the types and amounts of liquids used or stored in the area.
Most spill kits absorb a range of spilled liquids. For example, universal spill kits can absorb almost all non-corrosive liquids, while hazmat kits can absorb most corrosives and oxidizers. Because of this, PPE is usually not supplied with spill kits since no single type of gloves, goggles or other PPE is compatible with every chemical.
Some spill kits are developed and packaged for specific applications such as fuel islands or battery charging areas. When this is the case, the kit developers often do include PPE because the kit has a specific purpose, and the developers know the required chemical resistance.
It is a common practice to add appropriate PPE to spill kits. To facilitate this, kits that don’t come with PPE typically include empty space to add items such as splash goggles, gloves, aprons and booties.
In some cases, spill responders will already be wearing appropriate PPE, so adding these items to a spill kit isn’t necessary. In others, the employer might want employees to don PPE before entering a spill zone or accessing the contents of a spill kit.
Regulations require employers to be prepared for spills. However, because every facility has unique processes and needs, no regulation mandates specific products, tools or equipment. Employers must evaluate their needs, choose the best methods to protect personnel and the environment; and train their workers on how to use those methods safely and effectively.