The costly, labor-intensive but critical process of containing spills
The containment of spills is about containing costs and risk to human health and to the natural environment through the use of safety equipment and technologies.
Legislation on spill containment varies from state to state and country to country. Spend the time it takes to learn the rules in your region.
The money you'll spend learning about spills - and putting preventive measures in place - is far less than the clean-up costs and the fines you'll pay for breaking spill containment regulations.
When a spill happens in your workplace, your first point of business should be to address the questions:
- How much of the substance has been spilled?
- Does the nature and size of the spill fall under the requirements for reporting?
- Is it hazardous?
- Is everyone all right?
If the spill is on a waterway, time is extremely important. Call the authorities (fire department, police and local government) immediately. Everyone downstream must be aware of what is coming their way.
The only containment methods available for waterway spills are booms and skimmers. Booms are simply floating barriers used to either surround the product or divert it to a collection location. Skimmers use different methods to collect the spilled fluid, such as a rotating wheel, conveyor, weir dam or even a vacuum.
If the spilled product is heavier than water, vacuum trucks could be helpful in the cleanup. (But finding the contaminant will be a challenge!)
There are more ways of dealing with a spill that happens on land. Sorbents such as socks, pads and floor dry products will handle the smaller messes.
Drums will help with the larger messes. Storage drums for chemicals and other solutions are big business; there is a vast array of accessory products for the drum industry. Plastic and metal platforms are available for barrels if one springs a leak or is punctured by a forklift. Stands, liners, funnels and handlers are all available in various forms.
Storage drums and tanks are available in many sizes and materials for all types of spills. Specialized spillage containment systems include mobile systems for moving around a factory, or a stationary rubber pool large enough to drive a truck on.
Heavy rubber drain guards can be placed over a floor drain to stop the fluid from going anywhere. This gives you some time to start cleaning up the mess. Municipalities want to know anytime anything nasty goes down the drain, and they will be very unforgiving if steps were not taken to control the spillage.
Spill containment is a time and labor-intensive process; you'll likely need outside help. Every major city has companies who handle the collection and disposal of industrial waste.
Despite the effort required, effective spill containment is a vital strategy for workplace safety.