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Emergency Response: Who Should Clean Up in 200 Words or Less

oil_spill_remediation__assessment-med_-879415-edited.jpgBuilding off the last post on who should evacuate during a spill, another common question is “Who is responsible for cleaning up the spill?” OSHA states in CFR 1910.120 that a spill becomes an emergency response when it is likely to result in an uncontrolled release of hazardous substance and/or poses a potential safety or health hazard to the responder. This is a fairly broad definition, but it generally boils down to what you and the responder feels comfortable with.

If a lab employee spills a very small quantity of a fairly benign substance, then they are probably capable of cleaning it. However, if that small quantity is highly toxic or is impacting a floor drain that leads to city sewer, it has become an emergency that requires OSHA trained personnel to evaluate and clean. A useful tool that many institutions have put into place is a “cut off” volume for any and all low-risk substances to delineate between “incidental” and “emergent” spills.

For instance if your “cut off” volume is 4 liters and a researcher drops a half full 4 liter bottle of buffer, they can clean it up. On the other hand, if the same bottle contains ethanol, which poses a significant fire risk, it’s time to evacuate your employee and call in a hazmat-trained spill team. It’s important to note that it’s perfectly acceptable and fairly common to prescribe your “cut off” volume at 0, meaning any spill of any volume requires a trained hazmat team to evaluate and clean regardless of the associate hazards.

For more information on creating an ER mock drill, check out our downloadable guide here.

Download the GuideOr request a free onsite emergency action plan consultation here.

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