Hazardous spills

When potentially harmful or dangerous chemicals are spilled, work quickly to protect yourself and others.

Immediate actions

Minor spills

  • Alert everyone in the immediate area of the spill.
  • Evacuate if necessary. More information: Evacuation.
  • Identify the substance (e.g. through the use of signs, labels or safety data sheets) and note any safety requirements.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment.
  • Stop the source (e.g. plug the leak, activate shut-off valves), if safe to do so.
  • Contain the spill to protect the environment. Use drip trays and spill kits and block off access to drains.
  • Notify the lab manager/supervisor.
  • Lab manager/supervisor: Notify Security on 966 (0800 373 7550 from a mobile phone).

Major spills

  • If the spill can't be safely contained and it affects people or the environment, notify the Fire Service on 111 and state the following:
    • Name of caller
    • Exact location of spill
    • Substance involved in spill
    • Quantity of spill in litres
    • Size of spill in square metres.
  • Staff: Assign a person—preferably the lab manager or supervisor—to meet the Fire Service/inform the building warden.
  • Evacuate the building immediately, avoiding the area of contamination as best you can. More information: Evacuation.
  • Comply with the Fire Service's instructions.

Staff: Clean up/post-spill actions

Ensure personal wellbeing

  • Decontaminate yourself and others, including clothing.
  • Monitor for after-effects.
  • Administer/obtain medical care.

Dispose of contaminated materials

  1. Seal in plastic bags or containers:
    • Any items used from spill kits
    • Any other products that have been contaminated.
  2. Take the bags/containers to an authorised disposals point complete with a hazardous waste declaration that identifies the materials.
  3. Lab manager/supervisor: Contact an authorised waste contractor to remove the waste.

Lab manager/supervisor responsibilities

Restock and review

  • Raise an incident report using the University’s accident/incident reporting system.
  • Re-stock spill kit.
  • Assess reasons for incident and implement corrective response as soon as practicable.
  • Retain a copy of the fire crew’s incident report (if the Fire Service was called).