Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Environmental Protection Agency require facilities to be prepared for spills, but neither agency mandates the types of spill response supplies a facility must have. That means you can choose the tools, products and response methods that make the most sense to respond to spills at your facility.
Spill kits are a convenient way to keep absorbents on hand and ready to go, which is exactly why a prosthetics manufacturing company chooses them to prepare for spills and comply with regulations.
We recently visited this company’s facilities to take a look at their current spill supplies and identify if there are any areas they can improve.
The company already keeps adequate amounts of spill response supplies stocked and regularly train their employees on how to clean up small spills. They also have a response team available in the event of a large spill and equip their employees with wallet cards that outline how to quickly and safely determine if they can clean up a spill on their own or if they should call in the spill response team.
This company is well-prepared for spills, but wants to take their preparedness a step further by having a standardized look and higher visibility for each kit. One of the challenges they face is fitting the needed supplies in small spaces while maintaining accessibility. And, like many facilities, they are looking for an easier and faster way to verify that their spill kits are stocked without having to manually open each kit during inspections. They also occasionally need to deal with employees borrowing items from spill kits for daily use instead of obtaining their absorbent supplies from stock.
This facility’s desires are common for many of our customers, so we were able to share some spill kit best management practices that have been successful at other companies.
As we talked about standardizing the look of spill kits, we discovered that there were only two or three realistic areas where kits could be stored: under worktables or benches and on the walls near processes. Another consideration would be a cart-style kit that could be stored in a closet or alcove in each area, and then rolled into a production area when needed.
By choosing kits that are in bright yellow or green containers, employees will be able to locate spill response items quickly, especially in departments where spills aren’t common and employees may not use the kits on a regular basis. Reflective tape could also be used on the floors or walls near a kit to help visually locate spill response tools quickly.
Opening each spill kit and counting the mats, socks, wipes and other items inside is very time-consuming – especially when there are several spill kits onsite. Adding tamper evident seals to each kit is a way to speed up the inspection process. If the seal is in place and unbroken, everything should still be in the kit, ready to go. It’s still a good idea to open spill kits once a year to make sure that everything inside is in working order. If kits are stored outdoors or in direct sunlight, visual inspections of kit contents should occur more frequently because UV rays can make absorbents brittle in as little as six months.
While tamper-evident seals help anyone inspecting kits to quickly complete inspections, absorbents inside each kit can still be borrowed between inspections. General-purpose absorbents that are used for daily leak and drip tasks are typically gray or blue. Choosing pink absorbents for spill response kits — even if the added chemical resistance isn’t necessary — deters borrowing because these absorbents visually stand out in most work environments and provide an immediate indication that someone has been using the absorbents from the spill kit.
Like this facility, many companies need spill response supplies to prepare for spills and comply with regulations. But, taking the time to revisit where kits are stored, whether or not they are kept stocked and how quickly someone can find them when they’re needed helps move facilities beyond compliance and demonstrates a greater commitment to employee safety and environmental protection.
Are you ready to take spill response to the next level at your facility? Stock up on the absorbents you need to clean up big or small messes or keep supplies together in an easy-to-access spill kit.