Professionals wearing safety gear while handling hazardous chemicals

Guide to Handling Chemicals Properly

Preventing accidents is possible, but it is not something all of us are able to do all the time. Every now and then, something happens that can lead to a disaster. One such area where an incident such as a spill can become a huge disaster is in chemical laboratories. Fortunately, these facilities have standards in place that decrease the risk of life-threatening accidents.

Preventing Chemical Spills

Chemists are aware that any kind of spill is a waste. More than that, they know that spills can also lead to accidents and workplace injury, particularly if the chemical is highly volatile or corrosive. One of the ways chemical laboratories prevent spills is with the use of an IBC bund or what is more commonly known as a chemical bund.

A chemical bund is a large platform-like tray where the chemical container is placed. It prevents people who are handling the chemical from getting contaminated while also ensuring that any spill or leak is contained. Generally, the IBC bund should be able to hold 10% more of the largest tank capacity in the laboratory. This should give you enough space to place foam in cases of emergency. However, bunds do not just come as a single storage unit. There are some chemical bunds that can hold multiple chemical containers at a time.

Aside from having a chemical bund, you can also prevent chemical spills by making sure that all jars and containers are labeled properly. These labels should not just indicate what’s inside the container but should also enumerate danger it poses if ingested or if there is a spill. At the same time, it should also list down what needs to be done in order to contain the risk.

In case you do not have a chemical bund and a spill or leak takes place, the first thing you need to do is to get everyone as far away as possible from the spill. If the spill is a simple one, you can clean it up yourself; however, if the spill covers a wide area with a possibility of spreading, you might need external help to get it contained and cleaned up. In both cases, you need to contact the safety officer and inform him or her about the spill or leak.

Cleaning Up the Spill

Oil plant workers wearing safety gear

When doing a spill cleanup, make sure you do not get the dust and vapors spread out even more. Before you do the cleanup, you should assess whether the chemical involved is volatile or not or whether airborne dust could pose a problem. If that is the case, make sure you close the door and increase ventilation using a fume hood. On the other hand, if the spill happens to be either basic or acidic, neutralize it first and then mop it afterward.

Once you are done with the cleanup, you need to dispose of all the items that you have used. Separate your cleaning materials from your normal trash and bag and label them properly.

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