Essentials of a Spill Kit
A spill kit is crucial to have on hand in the case of a chemical or potentially dangerous agent spill. You may be wondering about spill kits and what’s inside - so let’s take a look.
What should be inside a spill kit?
Short answer: there are 3 main different types of spill kits. General purpose kits, oil & fuel kits, and chemical kits. There are also more niche types.
- Spill kits are essential to have on hand in certain industries and workplaces. The type of kit selected will depend on the application (business) or spill it may be used for.
- Spill kits should include a few key items: PPE, absorbent pads and/or powder, disposal bags, and a containment boom.
- Follow the instructions and restock the kit after use.
What is a Spill Kit?
A spill kit is essentially a set of equipment organised into a kit - selected specifically to assist in case of a “spill” of substances (which may be dangerous).
All of the items selected inside are designed to assist with cleanup in the best way possible, and importantly - the safest.
There are also different types of kits, depending on the type of substances concerned.
- Spill kits are essential to have in the workplace, an environment with hazardous agents or in general settings
- Spill kits can also come in different sizes, depending on their usage.
There are small workplace kits (such as 20L) size, all the way to larger kits suitable for things like crane spills.
Typically, an area or business which is dealing with any of the following agents should have a spill kit:
- Oils (which may including cooking oils or industrial oils)
- Potentially dangerous chemicals OR toxic substances
- Protein fluid
Of course, it is more crucial to have a kit for some areas of work than in others.
The most common fields of work who may use a kit/keep one on hand are:
- Repairment shops or businesses
- Warehouses or production/stock facilities
- Mechanical repair shops
- Hospitals and other health facilities or clinics
- Transportation businesses
- Chemical production facilities or businesses (such as labs)
- Oil companies
- Defence companies/facilities
- Shipping and delivery facilities/centres
- Gas companies
- Mining companies
- Public/communal places or facilities.
Note: the Australian Work Health and Safety Act provides an outline of which types of businesses are required to have a spill kit on hand.
The general rule of thumb is if you are dealing with any potentially dangerous substances, it is necessary in case of a cleanup.
What is Inside a Spill Kit?
Typically, a spill kit will have a general set of inclusions that each have a specific sole purpose, even if the items are slightly different.
We will cover the most common, but inclusions may slightly vary - though generally the same purpose wise.
Spill kits usually consist of:
- PPE (personal protective equipment) gear.
At least basic PPE should be included in a kit.
The type of PPE included will depend on the kit and which spill is being cleaned.
Generally, it may include:
- Quality gloves (PVC or acid rated)
These items will vary slightly per kit type.
- An absorbent agent (which absorbs the spilt substance)
- General purpose absorbent mats or pads
- Bags for waste disposal
- Containment boom (which stops the substance from dispersing)
- If you purchase a kit, instructions or a guide on cleaning up will also likely be included.
Allows the spill to be soaked up and can be spread over large spills.
This is usually a powder.
“Absorbent socks” may be inside instead or as well.
It will stop the liquid from spreading and can assist with much easier clean up.
Similarly to the absorbent, the pads work to soak up the product.
This is because like a sponge, they easily absorb and remove the liquid directly.
They can then be placed into the disposal bags and removed.
These allow for the used or soiled objects to be placed into the bags before being thrown out.
A containment boom may be included which is used to contain the spill.
Note: At times, dispersants are also included.
Types of Spill Kits
There are 3 main types of spill kits, and each has a different application or ideal usage.
- General purpose spill kits (also known as “universal” kits)
- Oil and fuel spill kits (also called marine spill kits).
- Chemical spill kits (also called workshop kits).
As the name suggests, this is the spill kit which suits a broad set of circumstances and substances.
A general purpose spill kit is mostly targeted for overall substances - which includes both hazardous and non hazardous chemicals/agents.
Examples of less hazardous substances are water, cooling agents, solvents and antifreeze.
They are good for indoor use and cleaning up the majority of messes.
For typical workplace environments and more general areas, this kit may be the most common choice.
These kits are used for cleaning up oil or fuel spills, and are specifically suited to greasy/oily substances.
They are also referred to as marine kits because they come in good use for ocean oil spills.
Items in these types of kids are specifically selected to be water repellents - working well for oil based substances.
These kits are also called workshop kits because they refer to chemicals and substances likely to be used in this setting.
Chemical kits are good for dealing with dangerous chemicals or hydrocarbons.
They serve well in production industries - e.g manufacturing and plants.
Note: In addition to these main types, there are also more refined categories of spill kits for certain applications or situations.
You may want to read a guide on the best spill kit to select for your specific business, or have a look at the requirements in your location.
How to Use a Spill Kit
Firstly, try to ensure beforehand you have the correct type of kit for your environment.
It’s also helpful to ensure your employees/assistants are trained on use.
However, regardless of kit - the below general steps of usage will likely apply.
Steps of use:
- Prior to beginning anything, assess the safety of the situation.
- Put on the PPE protective gear
- Halt whatever the source of the spill was (make sure it is discontinued).
- The next step is to make sure the liquid doesn’t travel beyond the area or into the drain (if chemicals especially).
- Stop the spill spreading and absorb it.
- Once the absorbent has soaked the spill up, carefully dispose of the soiled items (all pads, rags and material etc)
- Record the spill if necessary, and restock your kit.
Make sure everybody is safe, out of the way of contents and everyone is properly equipped with gear to handle everything.
Before any cleanup begins, even for seemingly harmless items - put on your PPE.
It can assist with preventing anything getting in your eyes and crucial areas - even non toxic chemicals can cause problems when this happens.
Whatever caused the spill (example a tub/container) make sure nothing is still spilling or leaking.
Stop the root source of the spillage.
Plug holes, use resins or find a wedge of some kind to do this if you have no other means.
Some spill kits may have certain items for this included.
In case of chemicals, spill kits will come with absorbent pads for this specific purpose - to allow for the spill to be prevented from entering drains and harming the environment.
Use anything in the kit to do this - the absorbent pads, absorbent broom, or any rags or blankets on hand too if needed.
You can circle the spillage border with the items in the kit (whether pads, absorbent socks or rags on hand etc).
Take your absorbent (powder) or whatever material your kit has, and cover the entire area with it.
Allow them to absorb the spill.
Place them carefully into the disposal bags included in the kit - wearing gloves.
Dispose of the materials.
Depending on the substance/industry, you may be required legally to notify relevant authorities that a spill has occurred.
Ensure you also restock your kit and replace the items.
How should I select the kit I need?
Before you purchase a spill kit, you should carefully consider what industry or potential scenario it is being used for.
You can also visit the website for many spill kit manufacturers to have a look at which would best be suited to your business.
Follow the guidelines of the best kit for your field.
What do I do for a serious spill?
Some situations (such as a radioactive spill, very dangerous chemical or very large level spill) may be unable to be sufficiently addressed using a spill kit.
In this case, contact authorities/your local chemical safety department.
Spill kits are immensely useful to have on hand in a workplace or in case of a cleanup situation.
You should select the proper one for your situation, make sure you know how to use it, follow the instructions and restock it after use.