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Spill kits, what they are and do you need them?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 @ 08:30 AM

For my next safety blog to start of the new year I will talk about needing and then making a spill kit.

I have been asked many times by contractors, "Do I really need a spill kit? I one word, Yes. OSHA requries you as a contractor working out in the public to be responsible for the health and safety of your employees and the public at large while you are working while you are handling and working with hazardous materials. And unless you know for sure and can prove that non of the products you use to clean with are hazardous then I would plan on carrying a spill kit when ever you are transporting and using chemicals. 

To know what type and how large of a kit you will need you will first have to know what chemicals you are carrying at any given time, how these chemicals may react under multiple conditions and with each other if a spill was to occur.

Spill-kit-bucket.jpgAccidentSpillKevin Stokes2.jpgSweepUpSmall.jpg

According to OSHA; "A spill kit is a collection of items to be used in the immediate response and clean-up of spills, leaks or other discharges of hazardous wastes or other hazardous materials" (chemicals, gas, etc.). "Spill kits should be maintained in close proximity to areas where chemicals are managed or stored to enable prompt response to and clean-up of spills."

Spill kits will come in various sizes and types and a few are those that can handle anything. To know what you will need you first need to check your SDS's for all of the chemicals you use. Then from this information that will determain what kits you will need.

Here are the different types of kits:

Universal or General - These handle most non hazardous, non acid spills and as long as the kit is made to handle the volume of the spill, this in the type everyone needs to carry with any vehicle that transports chemicals. Even if non hazardous it is a good idea to be able to handle a spill on your own. 

Types of Spill kits.png

Oil-Only - Contains absorbent materials made for oils not water. (photo)

HazMat - These contain specialized PPE, absorption materials and removal devices above what a general kit would contain.

acid spill kit.jpgCalgonite spill kit.png

Acid -  Is a type of HazMat kit. These contain specialized PPE, neutralization and adsorption materials in addition to specialized removal containers. Note: Some acid kits are not made to handle hydrofluoric acid so make sure of the neutralizer you get. I recommend Spill-X-A or Calgonate.

OSHA guidelines lists the equipment types that must be in a spill kit: Proper PPE, materials to contain the spill and the materials needed to clean up and remove the spill.

Here is what normally needs to be in any spill kit:

Labeling on outside of the kit container, stating what type of spill kit it is, it may also state the size spill it covers but is not required.

A warning measure, to keep others away from the spill until removed, examples are;

            A-frame floor sign        

            Roll of caution tape

            Hazard cones

PPE, personal protection equipment to use while removing the spill;

            Gloves - hand protection - minimum  

            Eye wear - eye protection - minimum

            Mask - lung protection if needed

            Shoe covers - foot protection if needed

            Can include more when needed for type of spill example; a full face respirator.

Physical barriers to place around the spill used to contain which may not absorb the spill;

            Berm, bumper, sock  

            Drain covers or plugs, to keep spill out of drains and pipes. 

Absorption materials;

            Sand, clay, pads, or other materials to soak up the spill

Removal Items; Broom and pan or shovel, to collect loose soiled material for removal 

Removal containers;

            Bags, or other container that can be sealed to remove spill waste.

The size of the kit can vary as well. Always try to have and use a kit made to handle more chemical than you have spilled, but if you can not, try to limit or contain the spill with the materials you do have on hand. For instance if the only thing you can do is lessen a spills impact by blocking a storm drain, stopping it from travelling down hill or out into a street, do that until additional help arrives, like the fire department. Additional spill kits or other materials can be brought to the contained spill for removal as soon as possible by the first respondors.

There is one big point to this post that you do not have to buy a pre-made kit and there is no such thing as OSHA approved so do not fall for that sales trick. OSHA does not certify any specific brand of kits. But a kit may say conforms to OSHA requirements or be called an OSHA spill kit. But you can make one yourself some times at a much lower cost. That I will cover in next weeks post.

Tags: safety, chemicals, spill kits

Cold weather tips for mobile contractors.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jan 07, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

cold_weather.jpg is finally here for most of you and with that special things you need to take care of now and be reminded of before you have a problem.

For those that do not work in the colder weather all equipment and supplies need to be winterized. Washers filled with a RV antifreeze solution. Winterize_with_antifreeze.jpgHoses should also be air dried out and not allowed to freeze where the cold may damage the hose material. The contraction and expansion of freezing and thawing will cause many hoses to get micro cracks which will shorten the life of the hose and possible cause serious safety issues for personnel and equipment later on. You can also apply lubricants or coatings to hoses that you are using out in the cold, to keep their materials supple, to reduce cracking.

For those that will still be working in this cold weather make sure your equipment is is top shape, that you have changed the oils over to cold weather strengths, that you allow your machines to warm up longer and properly before putting a load on them. That your other fluids are at full levels or when possible with small amounts of antifreeze to reduce the chance of freezing. Tires will loose pressure due to the cold temps so be sure to check levels often. Check battery charges often as cold drains them faster. At 32 degrees a fully charged battery only has a 65% cranking capacity while an engines starting requirement can increase from 100 up to 155%. 

Keep liquid chemicals from freezing by keeping them in insulated enclosed boxes or behind wind breaks. Containers should be kept full as possible, as larger volumes of liquids take longer to freeze. You might even consider placing a large cooler on your rig to keep chemicals in, as a cooler will keep cold out and a steady inside temp as well as it does to keep cold in when used as a normal cooler.

And there are other safety issues to consider. Controlling water run off while washing which may freeze causing slip and fall situations. You may need to stock up and carry, signage, litter or ice melt to spread out on walk ways and work areas. Carrying anti slip tire tracks and a small shovel to get a vehicle and trailer out of snow, ice or mud from snow melt if needed.ice_melt_treatment.jpgshoe_tread_covers.jpg

You need to make sure your employees know how to dress and stay dry while working in the cold so not to get hypothermia or frostbite.They need to wear hats, 10-50% of body temp can be lost from the head, waterproof gloves, warm wool socks (not cotton), and waterproof foot wear with non slip treads or added cleats or tread covers. Under garments with moisture wicking action will keep sweat wet away from their skin. Small hand and foot warmers will make it more comfortable to work out in the cold. Wearing a neck gator or scarf placed over your mouth will keep the cold air out of your lungs.

Do not let the colder weather stop you and your workers from drinking and staying hydrated. People tend to not drink as much in the cold which is a mistake when you are still exerting your self even if you can not feel the sweat. Drinking sips of warm drinks will help keep your core temp up but refrain from caffeine usually found in coffee and tea by drinking decaff as caffeine increases blood flow which will cause the body to loose heat faster.

Also stopping to eat small high calorie items like power bars as a snack, even just a few bites at a time, will keep your core temp up as your body will send blood to your stomach to digest it. Working at an even pace will keep you warm where moving too fast will cause you to sweat and burn calories needed to keep you warm that can bring on hypothermia or cause stress to your circulatory system which may bring on a stroke or heart attack.hypothermia.jpg

Remember to be aware of wind chill as it can damage any exposed skin well before you realize it. Know the signs and stages of hypothermia and frost bite. Have employees keep extra socks and 

Try and take frequent rests periods out of the wind and cold to allow your body to warm up but resist the urge to make the rest area hot. Moving from very cold to very hot locations will make you feel colder when you go back out and if the heat has caused you to sweat on your skin the evaporation will cool you down even more rapidly. Be careful if you are using an enclosed rig that it is properly ventilated so not to have dangerous fumes from building up including CO2 and carbon monoxide that you can not smell.

I hope these tips help keep you and your employees warm and safe during the winter cleaning season.


Tags: safety, Tips, Health, chemicals

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