Chemical Spill Procedures
The amount and hazard of the chemicals involved
will determine the appropriate response to a chemical spill.
See the UVM
LabRat for help identifying the factors involved in assessing various chemical spill scenarios.
Police Services at 911 if immediate assistance is needed. If
immediate assistance is not required, but there is any doubt
about the laboratory worker's ability to safely clean up the
spill, page Risk Management & Safety staff through Service
Operations at 6-2560 for assistance. Note that our response
depends upon knowledge of the hazards present at the spill,
so provide us with as much information as possible when you
Minor Chemical Spill
A minor chemical spill is when:
- Less than 1 liters of chemical are spilled.
- The chemical
spill has a low to moderate hazard.
- No one has been exposed to the chemical.
- Laboratory workers have sufficient equipment and training
to properly clean up the spill.
1. Protect Yourself and Alert Others
- Avoid direct contact with the spilled material.
- Wear a laboratory coat or other protective clothing, eye
or face protection and protective gloves during clean up.
- Treat all chemicals as if they are hazardous materials.
2. Contain the Spill and Secure the Area
- Cordon off the spill area. Use the chemical
spill sign (available here in PDF format) in
the UVM spill kit to alert people to the spill.
- Do not walk through, or allow others to walk through, the
3. Clean Up the Spill
- Using the UVM Chemical Spill Kit, follow these directions
to absorb the spill.
- If the absorbent is the Encapsall
powder, carefully encircle
the spill and then sweep it through the puddle. After 5 minutes,
sweep up absorbent materials and place them into a chemically
compatible disposal container. Do not use the powder spill
kit for Hydrofluoric Acid or Mercury.
- If the absorbent is an Universal pad, cover the puddle carefully
and let the pad absorb the chemical for 5 minutes. Note that
these pads CAN collect Hydrofluoric Acid, but not Mercury.
- REMEMBER that neither absorbent neutralizes the
hazard of the spilled chemical. Therefore, the same protective
equipment must be used when collecting the absorbent as when
handling the chemical!
- Use forceps or other tools to pick up the absorbent material.
Picking material up with your hands increases the likelihood
of exposing yourself to the material.
4. Dispose of the Material through the Environmental Safety Facility
- Contaminated gloves and absorbents should be placed in
the disposal bag in the spill kit for removal.
- Properly label container with a completed Laboratory Waste
- Follow the directions on the back of the Laboratory Waste
Tag to have the spill material picked up. When in doubt,
contact Environmental Safety via e-mail email@example.com for specific
5. Clean Up
- Wash your hand thoroughly, even if there is no visible contamination.
- Replace items used in the spill kit by contacting Environmental
Major Chemical Spill
A major chemical spill is when:
- A chemical is flammable, reactive or highly toxic.
- Someone has been exposed to the chemical.
- The spill
is greater than 1 liter.
- Too much of a chemical has been spilled for the amount of
absorbent in the laboratory.
1. Protect yourself and others: Shut off any sources of ignition and stop
the source of the spill, if you can do so without endangering
2. Evacuate the immediate area, closing the
door behind you. Put the sign
from the Chemical Spill Kit (available here in PDF format) up at the entrance to the laboratory.
3. Pull the fire alarm if building evacuation
is necessary because:
- A chemical reaction creates a fire or potential for a fire
- The spill is flowing outside of the room.
- Fumes or odors are permeating the building.
4. Call the UVM Emergency Number (911 on campus phones).
Be prepared to provide the following information:
- Your name,
- Specific location of the spill,
- Name of the substances spilled,
- Quantity spilled.
5. Wait in a safe place for Police Services to arrive, and identify
yourself to them.
March 2, 2007