Accidental releases of hazardous materials can occur in the workkplace and all employees should be aware of basic precautions procedures for chemical spills. Small spill-absorbent containers for first response to spills will be located in all laboratoriesand other areas where large quantities of hazardous chemicals are used. A large spill kit with neutralizing chemicals anddamming equipment will also be available. If it is not necessary to evacuate, workers cleaning up a spill should put on the protective equipment provided with the spill kit and dam and neutralize and/or absorb the spill, working the absorbent material into the spill with a scoop. Scoop the mixture into the buckets provided, include any other contaminated items, seal the bucket, and see to its proper disposal. Large spills (greater than 1 pound) require notification of HMP (402-472-4925).
Mercury spills are dangerous. Mercury gradually vaporizes and can be absorbed through the skin, poisoning the central nervous system. It is important to completely clean up the spill and prevent tracking from the spill. A portable mercury spill kit should be in labs where mercury is used, or contact HMP (402-472-4925) for help in cleaning the mercury spill. Isolate the area of the spill by placing chairs or other items around the spill. Mark the area with a sign labeled “mercury spill”. Inform the laboratory manager or safety officer immediately. Place all broken apparatus that contains mercury in a plastic pan or bucket. Do not try to reclaim mercury for recycling purposes.
Contamination of a person’s body requires immediate removal of the contaminant with copious amounts of water, using the safety shower if necessary. If the contaminant is a biohazard or radioactive, soap and warm water and gentle cleansing is a first response. Call EHS (402-472-9550) for specific information concerning decontamination procedures.
EHS provides a number of Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) that provide additional and useful information.