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Laboratory Safety Manual

Reviewed May 2012  

Chapter 1: Emergency Response
Section 1.1 - Chemical Spills

B. Minor Spills

Minor spills are those spills that do not fit the requirements for Emergency Spills.

The following general procedures should be used for all minor spills:

  1. Attend to any persons who may have been contaminated. If these persons require medical attention this is an Emergency Spill (See above).
  2. Notify persons in the immediate area about the spill.
  3. Evacuate all nonessential personnel from the spill area.
  4. If the spilled material is flammable, turn off ignition and heat sources.
  5. Avoid breathing vapors of the spilled material. If respiratory protection is necessary this is an Emergency Spill (see above).
  6. Leave on or establish exhaust ventilation if it is safe to do so.
  7. Secure supplies to effect cleanup.
  8. Don appropriate personnel protective equipment.

  9. Spilled Liquids

    • Confine or contain the spill to a small area. Do not let it spread.
    • For small quantities of inorganic acids or bases, use a neutralizing agent or an absorbent mixture (e.g., soda ash or diatomaceous earth). For small quantities of other materials, absorb the spill with a nonreactive material (such as vermiculite, clay, dry sand, or towels).
    • For larger amounts of inorganic acids and bases, flush with large amounts of water (providing the water will not cause additional damage). Flooding is not recommended in storerooms where violent spattering may cause additional hazards or in areas where water-reactive chemicals may be present.
    • Mop up the spill, wringing out the mop in a sink or a pail equipped with rollers.
    • Carefully pick up and clean any cartons or bottles that have been splashed or immersed.
    • If needed, vacuum the area with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner approved and designed for the material involved.
    • If the spilled material is extremely volatile, let it evaporate and be exhausted by the laboratory hood (provided that the hood is authorized for use with the spilled chemical).

  10. Spilled Solids

    • Generally, sweep spilled solids of low toxicity into a dust pan and place them into a container suitable for that chemical. Additional precautions such as the use of a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter may be necessary when cleaning up spills of more highly toxic solids.
    • Dispose of residues according to safe disposal procedures. Remembering that personal protective equipment, brooms, dust pans, and other items may require special disposal procedures. (See Section 3.4 - "Chemical Waste").
    • Report the chemical spill in writing as required above.

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