Chemical Spills

In recent years, environmental protection has received increased attention from most businesses as well as local, state and federal regulatory agencies. With various “Right to Know” laws designed to protect employees, visitors, and emergency response personnel, most organizations have taken the necessary pre-emergency planning steps to minimize chemical leaks and or spills. However, accidents and incidents will occur and often security personnel will be required to be involved in the emergency response to a chemical spill.

The first consideration for security personnel is to learn as much information as possible and which is available on the various chemicals and other materials used at the facility. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), are required to be available at various locations at a facility for employees to review if they desire. These MSDS’s provide information on a particular chemical or material such as:

  • Whether the material is flammable
  • How corrosive the material is to skin
  • What to do if the material touches the skin, mouth eyes, etc.
  • What to do if the material is inhaled
  • Whether personal protective equipment such as gloves, face shields, boots, coats, aprons, and self-contained breathing apparatus are required to be worn by a person when handling the material
  • What to do if a spill occurs

It is extremely important for security personnel to know where the Material Safety Data Sheets are stored. In the event of an emergency which does not involve a spill, but may involve a fire, emergency responders will want to know precisely what chemicals are used at the facility and their exact location.

Usually if a spill occurs during normal operations, security personnel will be basically responsible for notifying emergency response units and for directing them to the spill location. However, if a spill or leak is discovered over a weekend, holiday or otherwise facility shutdown time, on-duty security personnel will need to implement the Emergency Preparedness Plan.

If a security officer discovers a possible spill, it is critical that they use extreme caution in attempting to evaluate the seriousness of the situation. To simply enter a spill area without personal protective equipment or without knowledge of the source of the spill is extremely foolish and puts not only the health and safety of the security officer at risk but also further endangers the facility!