How To Develop Emergency Response Plan For Chemical Spill

Emergency Response Plan For Chemical Spill takes into consideration that plan that should be put in place to ensure prompt clean-up and recovery from chemical spillage.

The word emergency response is used because the longer the delay in recovery, the more damaging may be the effect of the chemical spillage.

It is worthy of note that spillage is unavoidable when dealing with liquid chemicals; either in handling, transporting or storing dangerous chemicals. Everyone involved in the process needs to know how to safely contain, clean up and deal with chemical spills.

Whether it is a large chemical spill from a fuel tanker or a small chemical spill from a corrosive chemical decanting system, you will need to create a Chemical Spill Response Plan to minimize risk.

Immediate Response to Chemical Spillage

1. Raise alarm: Everyone that could be affected should be alerted of the incident.

2. If its possible and feasible, you can start the clean-up process in case of a small spill.

3. You need to make use of your PPE like eye protection, gloves, lab coat, safety shoe, etc., if needed to reduce exposure.

4. Close laboratory door to increase exhaust through fume hood.

5. Neutralize acids and bases if you have an acid/base spill kit. Avoid contact or splashing during neutralization.

6. Control the spread of liquid; make a dike around outside edges of the spill.

7. Gently sweep solid chemicals (do not make airborne).

8. Decontaminate the area and equipment with a safe, compatible solution.

9. Collect and clean up residues and place them in a hazardous waste container provided or in a compatible container to be transferred to a hazardous waste bucket when available.

11. Label all waste containers for chemical content.

12. Properly package and label as hazardous waste.

13. Wash hands after cleanup.

Chemical Spill Categories

Chemical spills may be categorized into three (3);

  • Small spill: With size up to 300mL
  • Medium spill: With size 300mL to 5L
  • Large spill: With size greater than 5L, this category of spillage always requires outside help.


Chemical spills may also fall into two (2) categories,

  • Minor spill and
  • Major

Minor Chemical Spill

  • Chemical is known.
  • Does not pose an immediate or potential significant risk to safety or health, i.e., no fire, explosion, or chemical exposure hazard.
  • Does not have the potential to become an emergency.
  • Can be absorbed, neutralized, or otherwise controlled and cleaned up by personnel in the immediate area or by Facilities personnel.

Major Chemical Spill

  • Chemical is unknown.
  • Chemical is highly toxic or reactive.
  • Poses an immediate significant risk to health.
  • Involves a fire hazard outside a fume hood or an explosion risk.
  • Involves injury to personnel in the vicinity.
  • Response and cleanup are beyond the expertise and ability of personnel in the immediate area or Facilities personnel, and the equipment and materials for adequately containing and cleaning up the spill are not available.

Some Chemical Spill Prevention Practices

  • Secure flasks and beakers to prevent them from tipping over.
  • Recap containers immediately after use to reduce the risk of spillage if a container is accidentally tipped over.
  • Chemicals should be stored in secure, designated areas immediately after delivery.
  • Use a gas cylinder handcart when transporting large gas cylinders. Securely strap the cylinder to the cart.
  • Do not mix incompatible wastes to avoid uncontrolled chemical reactions.
  • Correctly identify the contents of all waste containers to prevent inappropriate disposal.
  • Store chemicals within easy reach of everyone in the lab, generally at or below eye level.
  • Open shelves used for chemical storage should be sturdy and be secured to the wall, and not overcrowded with bottles or containers.
  • Do not use broken or cracked glassware.
  • Leave at least 20 percent air space in bottles of liquid waste to allow for vapor expansion and to reduce the potential for spills due to overfilling.
  • Carry glass containers in bottle carriers or another leak-resistant, unbreakable secondary container.
  • Only purchase chemicals for which there is adequate storage space.
  • Do not store chemical containers on the floor, in aisles, in overcrowded areas, or anywhere a bottle/container could be knocked over and broken. Do not store in areas near heat or direct sunlight.
  • Protect containers from breakage by keeping other items from falling on them.
  • Regularly inspect chemicals in storage to ensure there are no leaking or deteriorating containers.
  • When transporting large, heavy, or many containers, use a cart suitable for the load with high edges or spill trays that will contain any spills or leaks.
  • All compressed gas cylinders must be securely fastened and stored upright.
  • Follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) at all times.
  • Always read the safety data sheet (SDS) and label before using a chemical.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
  • Work in a fume hood whenever possible, even when transferring a small amount of a hazardous chemical.
  • Dispose of waste regularly; do not allow excess waste to accumulate in the work area.
  • Use Pyrex glassware whenever possible since it has a low potential for breakage.
  • Be alert and attentive to what you are doing to prevent chemicals from being inadvertently dropped on the floor or countertop.
  • When not in use, keep waste containers securely closed or capped.
  • Ensure that lighting is adequate in the storage area.
  • Purchase chemicals in plastic-coated glass bottles when appropriate.

Emergency Response Plan For Chemical Spill

Here are the steps you could follow in developing emergency response plan for chemical spill:

  1. Identify the Hazards:
  • List all the hazardous chemicals stored or used on-site.
  • Determine the potential risks associated with each chemical, such as toxicity, flammability, and reactivity.
  1. Assess Vulnerabilities:
  • Identify vulnerable areas, including nearby populations, water sources, and environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Assess the potential consequences of a chemical spill, including the impact on human health and the environment.
  1. Form an Emergency Response Team:
  • Designate and train a team of responders who will manage the emergency.
  • Ensure that the team has the necessary knowledge and skills to handle chemical spills.
  1. Develop Procedures:

Create detailed procedures for responding to chemical spills, including:

  • Notification and activation of the emergency response team.
  • Evacuation procedures for personnel if necessary.
  • Methods for containing and controlling the spill.
  • Cleanup and decontamination procedures.
  • Communication protocols with emergency services and regulatory agencies.
  1. Identify Equipment and Resources:
  • List the equipment and resources needed to respond to chemical spills, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), spill kits, containment booms, and decontamination supplies.
  • Ensure that all equipment is in good working condition and regularly maintained.
  1. Establish Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place Plans:
  • Define evacuation routes and assembly points for personnel.
  • Create shelter-in-place procedures for situations where evacuation may not be safe.
  1. Training and Drills:
  • Provide training to all employees on how to respond to chemical spills and the use of safety equipment.
  • Conduct regular drills to ensure that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities in an emergency.
  1. Communication Plan:
  • Develop a communication plan that includes a list of emergency contacts, both internal and external (e.g., local authorities, hazardous materials response teams).
  • Ensure a reliable means of communication during an emergency, such as two-way radios or backup communication systems.
  1. Regulatory Compliance:
  • Familiarize yourself with relevant local, state, and federal regulations governing chemical spills.
  • Ensure that your plan complies with these regulations.
  1. Documentation and Record-Keeping:
  • Maintain detailed records of all emergency response activities, including drills and actual incidents.
  • Keep records of chemicals on-site, safety data sheets (SDS), and emergency contact information.
  1. Review and Update:
  • Regularly review and update your ERP to reflect changes in chemicals, equipment, personnel, or regulations.
  • Ensure that all employees are aware of the latest version of the plan.
  1. Community Outreach:
  • Inform and educate the local community about your chemical spill response plan to foster transparency and cooperation.

By following these steps, you can develop a comprehensive Emergency Response Plan for Chemical Spills that helps safeguard people, property, and the environment in the event of an emergency.