Emergency preparedness is an important part of a chemicals and environmental management program. Companies that use and store chemicals should have appropriate procedures in place to manage any chemical accidents such as spills.

Spill Management

Be prepared to respond to all chemical spills by:

  • Establishing spill response procedures for all potential chemical spills (large and small).
  • Providing training to relevant employees on spills response procedures.
  • Maintaining fully stocked spills response kits and appropriate PPE in areas of chemical storage and use.
  • Maintaining appropriate first aid equipment (i.e. eye/body wash stations).

When creating emergency response procedures, the SDS for each chemical should be reviewed as it contains important information on how to appropriately respond to emergencies such as spills. Helpful SDS sections include:

  • SDS Section 4 – First Aid
  • SDS Section 5 – Firefighting measures
  • SDS Section 6 – Accidental release measures
  • SDS Section 8PPE
  • SDS Section 10 – Chemical reactivity and compatibility
  • SDS Section 13 – Disposal considerations

Spill Response Equipment

Spill kits should be provided and made easily accessible in relevant areas in the workplace. Commercially available spill kits can be purchased or companies can create their own. A good spill kit should include the following items:

  • Containment/Absorbent Materials
    • Solvents/Organic Liquid Absorbent: Inert absorbents such as vermiculite, clay, or sand
    • Absorbent pads or rolls
    • Acid Spill Neutralizer: sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate or calcium carbonate
    • Alkali (Base) Neutralizer: sodium bisulphate, boric acid or oxalic acid
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • Hand protection (Chemical resistant safety gloves)
    • Eye protection (Safety goggles)
    • Body protection (protective clothing and/or apron)
    • Foot protection (Closed-toed shoes or shoe covers)
    • Respiratory protection
  • Clean Up Material
    • Brooms, dustpan, shovel to sweep up the absorbent material
    • Plastic tongs/ scoops to pick up contaminated absorbent material
    • A chemical resistant bin with a tight fitting lid to store contaminated clean up materials (absorbent, PPE)

Responding to Spills

All spills should be cleaned up immediately. Response procedures may vary depending on the amount and types of chemical(s) spilled, however the image below outlines the basic steps to be taken in the event of a chemical spill:

Relevant Higg Index Facility Environment Module (FEM) 3.0 indicators:

Chemicals Management – Level 1: Question 4

Emergency Preparedness Resources

The following websites serve as databases of information and offer downloadable tools for emergency response to chemical spills, including chemical hazard data sheets, reactivity data, and emergency response recommendation.

CAMEO Chemicals Database



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Dean Phillips wrote: Jul 28, 2021

I find it interesting how you explained that containment and absorbent equipment have to be compatible to chemicals that need to be contained. This is a great point you made, one I'm sure those interested in spill response procedures will be glad to have learnt of. My father and I was just having a conversation on this last Friday over dinner. He would love to read this! Thank you! https://www.ponderenvironmentalservices.com/portfolio_item/spill-response/