EMERGENCIES & SPILL Response
Chemical Spill – Small
A small chemical spill is a volume which does not exceed the capacity of the lab to clean up with materials on hand.
The following general procedures should be followed by laboratory personnel to clean up small spills:
- Notify people in the immediate area.
- Evacuate all nonessential personnel from the spill area.
- Attend to exposed or contaminated personnel.
- If spilled material is flammable, turn off ignition and heat sources, if possible.
- Avoid breathing vapors of the spilled material.
- Maintain or establish exhaust ventilation, if safe to do so, by opening the sash on the fume hood. Do not open doors or windows.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, lab coats, goggles and aprons to prevent exposure and minimize contamination.
- Use any available absorbent material (paper towels, spill pads) to absorb liquids.
- Sodium bicarbonate or sodium carbonate can be used to neutralize most acid spills.
- Citric acid can be used to neutralize base spills.
- Remove sharp objects using mechanical means such as tongs; never with hands.
- Clean up spill by working from the outside of the spill toward the center to minimize spread of contamination.
- Once free liquid has been absorbed, clean/neutralize the spill area.
- Place spill cleanup debris in a sealable bag and properly dispose through EHS or in the trash, as appropriate.
- Wash hands and other exposed skin after completing clean-up.
- Notify EHS if you require assistance or additional information.
Chemical Spill – Large
In the event of a large chemical spill (i.e., a volume of chemical which exceeds the capacity of lab personnel to control, uncontrolled leakage of a toxic or highly corrosive gas or a situation in which readily available personal protective equipment (PPE) is inadequate to ensure safety), the following measures must be followed:
- Evacuate the area immediately; shutting doors and windows on the way out, if possible.
- For situations that threaten life or property, activate fire alarms and call 911 as soon as possible.
- Notify the laboratory supervisor, principal investigator and EHS (434.982.4911). Our normal business hours are M-F 8:30am to 5:00pm. After hours, a voice recording will provide guidance and allow you to connect to the University Operator who will receive your report and notify the appropriate EHS staff member on call to provide assistance.
- Be prepared to supply information on: specific location, material spilled, quantity spilled, who to contact in regard to spill, contact information.
- Attend to any persons who may have been exposed or contaminated by using an eye wash and/or emergency shower, following first-aid procedures and/or taking to the emergency room.
- Assemble persons who were present in the laboratory at the time of the spill and wait for assistance at a safe location.
- Provide EHS personnel with details of the situation upon their arrival.
Chemical Spills in Public Areas
Chemicals must frequently be transported through public areas like hallways. If a public spill is small and there appears to be minimal risk of exposure to you and the others in the area, you can attempt to clean it yourself. This is not required of you. Otherwise, follow these guidelines:
- Pull the nearest fire alarm to evacuate the building.
- Evacuate with everyone else and call 911.
- Inform the operator that you pulled the alarm, and that you did so for a chemical spill.
- Call EHS to notify them of the spill and that you have already contacted the Fire Department.
- Remain on-scene in the evacuation area to assist the Fire Department and EHS when they arrive.