There is a high chance that chemical spills can occur in the laboratory. The first concern before addressing the chemical spill is determining whether there is an injury. You should attend to any injured person first. It is because if the chemical is corrosive, it will continue to harm the victim’s body of not attended. After that, you can follow the following general steps to clean up the spill.
1. Notify the personnel in charge of the laboratory of the spill. In case the material spilled is flammable, volatile or toxic you can ask people to evacuate.
2. Remove any clothing that might have been contaminated by the spill. Wash any part of the body came into contact with the chemical with plenty of water, this includes the eyes. However, you must be sure that the chemical is not reactive with water.
3. Collect information about the chemical before deciding on how to clean up the spill. Critical information about the chemical includes:
• The name of the chemical
• Hazards posed by the chemical
• The correct cleanup procedure for the respective chemical.
You can get the information from the Material Data Safety Sheet of the chemical.
4. After that you can proceed to clean the chemical if the following conditions are met:
• You have the appropriate material to control the spill. It should not react with the spilled chemical
• You can access the protective clothing and equipment for handling the chemical safely
• There is more than one person in the area. The other person will play the role of handing the cleaning supplies. It is critical to avoid contaminating other areas with the chemical
• In case the chemical is inflammable, ensure that there are no sources that can ignite it nearby.
If you lack the appropriate equipment and protective clothing to handle the chemical spill, contact the nearest Fire and Rescue Services to help with the cleaning.
5. Use the material for controlling the spill to prevent the chemical from spreading to other parts. If it spills to other parts, it will make the clean-up process to be complicated.
6. Mix the spill with the appropriate control compound. You should leave the neutralization reaction to go to completion. You can check for various indicators of the completion of the reaction. Some reaction will emit gas while others will change color. To be sure that the spilled chemical has been neutralized you can use the control compound in excess. After that scoop the material into an impregnable container.
7. Wash the spill area with an appropriate solution. In most cases, soap and water will just do fine.
When cleaning up a chemical spill, safety is paramount.