So your business keeps hazardous and dangerous chemicals or other substances stored on-site. Naturally, this comes with a whole host of safety considerations.
In particular, you’ll need to plan for the possibility of a spill.
Even if the amount you keep on location is minimal, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to respond to a spill.
Today, we’ll go over some of the basics. Naturally, we’ll also go the role that safety signs in the workplace (emergency information panels, in particular) can play in your spill response plan.
What should be included in your spill response plan?
Hazardous substances and chemicals can be extremely dangerous to you, your staff and visitors alike. Should a spillage occur, there are 5 main things you need to do straight away.
- Isolate the hazardous substance
- If possible – contain the spill
- Evacuate people from the area
- If needed, treat injuries or burns
- Call 000 and let authorities know
Of course, it’s important that you look up the substances in question first to determine whether or not they have special attributes which necessitate special measures.
Some things you’ll want to look at include…
Evacuation and quarantine
There are some substances that are so dangerous or toxic, that a total evacuation is necessary to keep everyone on-site safe. Gas and vapour spills and leaks are a great example of this.
However, it’s also worth thinking about a local evacuation too. For example, if the substance is contained to a single room, you may only have to evacuate that particular section of your business.
Just as it’s sometimes necessary to evacuate an area affected by a spill, it’s also often necessary to quarantine the affected area until the spill can be properly disposed of.
Proper cleaning and disposal
Just as you have strict requirements for storing and transporting hazardous substances in a safe manner, it’s important that any spills are safely cleaned up, as improper disposal or cleaning can put even more people at risk.
Thankfully, you can discover what steps need to be taken in disposal and cleaning fairly easily by looking up the substance’s UN number and the material’s Safety Data Sheet.
In addition to helping identify the substance, UN numbers also set out the appropriate response, as well as proper disposal.
This will tell you some of the more obscure disposal techniques – for example, some flammable liquids are best disposed of by absorbing them with sand.
Click here to look up the substances at your business.
First aid procedures
Dangerous and hazardous chemicals can cause significant harm if they come into contact with skin. As such, you’ll need to draw up a first-aid procedure that
You can communicate this with safety signs in the workplace. Using signs, you can:
- Explain first aid procedure
- Point out emergency basins and showers
- Identify first aid kits
All of which can help shave seconds off your response time
Your plan should be built around the substances you deal with
It’s important to remember that there are different kinds of hazardous substances. In addition to chemicals, there are also dust, particles, solids, liquids, gases and vapours, just to name a few.
A spill of each of these necessitates a different response. For example, a spill of acid is vastly different from a gas or vapour leak.
What’s more, certain substances have their own special qualities that in turn necessitate a unique response.
Certain chemicals and substances require specific actions to be taken in the event of a spill or other accident. Not everybody might know about them.
For example, in the event of a chemical spill, you’d assume the first response would be to wash it off. But there are some substances that can cause burns, explosions, or strong acids when contacted with water.
These are what we call water-reactive chemicals.
All of these needs to be considered in your response plan.
How safety signs in the workplace can help with spillage
Dangerous goods signs and labels
They say that prevention is better than cure. The same applies to dangerous and hazardous chemicals and substances – the best way to treat a spill is to prevent one from ever happening.
One way of doing so (asides from effective controls and handling techniques) is using dangerous goods signs and labels to identify substances. This immediately clues-in your staff, and tells them that the objects they’re handling need to be treated with care.
There are a wide variety of dangerous goods signs and labels. Our team of experts at Signsmart can provide exactly the ones you need in your workplace:
- Flammable gas
- Non toxic and non flammable gas
- Toxic gas
- Flammable gas
Emergency information panels (EIP)
Emergency Information Panels (EIPs) might not look like much, but they tell those who are in-the-know everything they need to know about the dangerous goods they’re handling:
- What the hazardous substance is
- How to store and handle it
- Conditions you shouldn’t expose it to
- What you should do when a spill occurs
- The correct way to clean up a spill
An EIP will provide information regarding the correct way to respond should a team member spill a hazardous substance.
It will also allow team members, staff and visitors to be aware of the hazards or threats posed by the chemical that have been spilled.
So you’ve successfully built an accident-free workplace. That’s great news – however, it’s still important that your employees are given occasional refreshers, and reminded where your first-aid equipment is kept.
And we here at Signsmart can help with the second one!
Using first-aid signs, you can help employees and visitors locate first aid stations and kits.
This can be a huge help if:
- It’s been a long time since you did a first-aid refresher
- You have visitors or drivers
- Your facility or business property is huge
Finally, we all know that things can get hectic during emergency situations. As such, signs can be a powerful tool!
As we mentioned above, certain hazardous and dangerous chemicals have unique characteristics and disposal requirements.
You won’t find this information on a generic, premade safety sign or EIP. For many rarer chemicals and substances, you need to go custom.
At Signsmart, we specialist in smarter signage – it’s in the name, after all!
A large part of that is custom safety signage that’s tailored towards your needs.
Tell us what substances you handle. We’ll look up the appropriate emergency response for a spill, and create safety signs that will help you keep your workplace safe.
Call Signsmart for emergency information panels, hazchem signs and more
We often see people underestimating the importance of emergency information panels and hazchem signs in the workplace. “It’s just a sign” they say.
Our team at Signsmart simply can’t stress enough how important it is to have the right signage so that both members of your team and visitors to your workplace know what to do in the event of an emergency.
That’s we we make it our mission to supply accurate, high quality hazchem and emergency information panels to businesses all over Australia.
It doesn’t stop there though! Unlike other sign stores, we go above and beyond – in addition to printing signs and getting them to you fast (in many cases, by the following day), we also make sure to carefully research the chemicals and substances you work with.
If you ask us, smart signage shouldn’t just warn, but also inform.
Alternatively, click here to shop safety signs!
You can also visit us for emergency information panels in Melbourne: pop into our office at 122 Whitehall Street, Footscray, VIC 3011.