What does a VP who is not fully awake when he gets his coffee in the morning, a hole in a roof and an old drum pump have in common? They all tend to leave little puddles on the floor.
Add to those a couple of overfilled containers, splashes that don’t hit the funnel in the waste collection area, overspray that doesn’t stay in the basin, drip pans that get kicked and whatever has leaked out of that forgotten old jug that’s been sitting on the top shelf in the storage area for two decades and it’s easy to see the need to be prepared for small spills.
Contingency plans focus on worst-case scenario spill response. But the reality is that most spills in facilities are neither worst-case scenarios, nor are they even large. In fact, most spills are less than five gallons and involve liquids that don’t present major health threats during cleanup.
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The Dangers Behind Small Spills
Think of small spills like hiccups: they’re a nuisance, but typically not an emergency. They still need to be cleaned up – interrupting the flow of a normal work day – but they don’t warrant evacuation or calling out the hazmat team.
Being prepared for small spills and stocking small spill response kits throughout the facility in every area where nuisance leaks and drips can happen will help promote safety and fast response. It will also keep larger, worst-case scenario spill kits fully-stocked and ready for those much rarer emergency situations.
When most people cause a spill or see leaks and drips on the floor, they will look for a way to clean it up because they know it’s the right thing to do and know that it can cause someone to slip and fall if they don’t see it in time to avoid it. If they can immediately find something to clean it up, they’ll take care of it. If not, they will either go look for something to clean it up, or they’ll simply leave it. Both options allow the slip hazard to remain on the floor.
Small spills that are left on floors can also eventually find their way into floor drains, potentially causing water pollution. They can get tracked all over the facility, causing premature floor wear that can lead to costly repairs before their scheduled maintenance interval. Even if the danger element of small spills is taken away, they can still make facilities just look dirty.
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The Benefits of Single-Use Spill Kits
Some of the benefits of small, single-use spill kits include:
• Quick response to minimize downtime and promote safety
• Lower cost than large spill kits
• Easy to fit into just about any area
• Fast replacement after use
Small spills can happen anywhere liquids are found. Consider these areas as well as others that are unique to the facility:
|Area||Commonly Found Liquids
|Entrances and Lobbies||Beverage drips
|Receiving Docks||Any liquid that was on a truck parked at the dock door
|Battery Charging Areas||Electrolyte
|First Aid||Bodily fluids
|Storage Areas||Raw materials
|Cafeterias, Breakrooms||Food and beverages
|Maintenance, Garages||Cleaning chemicals
Liquids that are being transported
Bulk fluids being transferred
After identifying the areas where small spills can happen and placing single-use kits in each of those areas, be sure to communicate their presence to everyone at the facility. This can be a good opportunity to do refresher training on incidental spill response or a good lead-in for a regularly scheduled Toolbox Talk on cleaning up incidental spills.
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Being prepared for large spill emergencies is essential. Being equally prepared for the much more frequent small spills that happen is just as essential to help promote fast, effective cleanup to minimize the chance of slip and fall incidents and also to promote facility safety efforts.