7.1  Preplanning a Spill Clean-up

7.2  Material and Equipment Requirements

7.3  Spill Response

7.4  Disaster Plan Screening and Emergency Weather Information

7.1       Preplanning a Spill Clean-up

Accidental release of hazardous substances is sufficiently common to require pre-planned procedures that will minimize exposure of personnel and property.  PERSONNEL PROTECTION IS OF PRIMARY IMPORTANCE AND CLEAN-UP OF SPILLS AND PROPERTY PROTECTION IS SECONDARY.

Consider the following items when preparing for spill response. 

         Prevention proper storage, operating procedures, inspection, and training to prevent or lessen the possibility of spills.

         Containment engineering controls such as containment walls in storage facilities.

         Clean-up capabilities designation of personnel, training, and equipment to clean-up the spill.  Do not attempt to clean-up large spills alone.

         Reporting provisions should be made for reporting spills to Environmental Health & Safety/Biological and Chemical Safety, the laboratory supervisor, and/or other pertinent personnel.

         Release know the potential location of the release (e.g., outdoors versus indoors, laboratory corridor, storage facilities, hoods, floor, within equipment, etc).

         Properties know the chemical and physical properties of the material (e.g., powder, crystal, liquid, solid, gas, toxicity, corrosivity, flammability).

         Quantity know the quantity of material that might be released and the dangers associated with the release. Have enough clean-up materials for the scale of work.

         Personal protective equipment what things are needed to be on hand at all times.

         Training Know the location and use of the emergency equipment in your area.  Know how to obtain additional help in an emergency and be familiar with emergency procedures.

7.2       Material and Equipment Requirements

The following items should always be on hand for use in cleaning up spills:

         chemical resistant gloves, selected for the type of chemical(s)

         chemical goggles and/or face shield

         closed-toed, nonporous shoes that cover the entire foot

         lab coat or other similar protective covering

         appropriate respiratory protection*

         spill clean-up agents which may include:

            - neutralizing agents such as sodium carbonate and sodium bisulfate

            - absorbents such as vermiculite or sand (commercial spill clean-up kits may also be used)

         scoop and container for removing absorbent material

         sponge mop and bucket for cleaning up the floor after neutralization and absorption

         dikes or diking material to contain the spill

*NOTE:  Respiratory protection is essential for spills or leaks that release gases, vapors, or aerosols that are toxic or pathogenic.  Air purifying respirators have specific filtering abilities, but do not supply oxygen. Supplied air respirators are required for clean-up of large spills and spills of highly toxic chemicals.

Only trained, fit-tested and medically cleared personnel will use respiratory protection equipment.  Incidents involving this level of response MUST immediately involve EHS/B&C.


7.3       Spill Response

The following guidelines may be used in preparing a spill response plan but the plan should be tailored to meet the specific scenario.




Notify persons in the immediate area that a spill has occurred and stop procedures.


Evacuate nonessential personnel from the spill area.


Turn off ignition and heat sources if a flammable material is involved.


Attend to persons who may have been contaminated/exposed.


Notify your supervisor and Environmental Health & Safety/B&C at ext. 21781


Avoid breathing vapors from the spilled material.  If a biohazardous material spills, leave the area and wait for aerosols to settle before cleaning up the spill.


Secure supplies for the cleanup.


Clean up if capable or leave immediate area and meet EHS response personnel

Additional information on chemical or biological spill cleanup is available from Environmental Health & Safety/Biological and Chemical Safety (ext. 21781). If a spill involves radioactive material, refer to the Radiation Safety Manual or call Environmental Health & Safety/Radiation Safety at ext. 22279.


7.4       Disaster Plan Screening and Emergency Weather Information

Hurricanes are the primary weather related threat to safe operations at UTMB.  Each laboratory must carefully consider what preparations must be applied to their operations.  At the start of each hurricane season University resources provide training open to all laboratory personnel to assist in planning for these events.

Disaster Plan Screening 

Each lab should complete the Disaster Plan Screening Questionnaire (Appendix C)) and develop a response plan specific to its operations. 

In general, preparation must include:   

         Removing and securing all loose materials from counters and shelves. 

         Covering all electronics and equipment that might be damaged by flying debris and/or water damage.

         Securing hazardous materials

         Developing an inventory of hazardous materials to be placed securely in a sealed plastic bag on the laboratory door to assist in re-entry evaluations.

         Removing all coverings from doors that might obstruct viewing of the lab during re-occupancy operations.

         Developing a plan for laboratory materials and equipment in the event of power outage or flooding.

         Developing a plan for protecting critical research materials from destruction

         Backing up data

         A designated essential personnel for re-entry (See form Emergency Weather Information in Disaster Planning Kit, (Appendix C).