It is important to have spill kits which are capable of containing any foreseeable spillage on-site. This will ensure that in the event of a spill the impact is minimised and it gives your staff to prevent a spill turning into an environmental incident.
A spill kit is an emergency stock of absorbent materials used to clean up spills of any liquid. They can be used to prevent pollution and to leave a working environment safe and free from a slip hazard.
No, if you are in an industry where small regular spills are unavoidable then a spill station is the best solution. Spill kits should only be opened in emergencies and stock should be replenished following the incident. If people regularly dip into spill kits for small spills, when a large spill occurs there may be an insufficient amount of absorbents left to deal with the spill. For more information on our spill stations click here
Most of the spill kits we provide have the same basic contents; these are absorbent materials, PPE, product to seal leaking containers, product to seal drains and hazardous waste bags . However some of these contents can be removed if they are not necessary e.g. drain seals for spill kits located away from drainage.
We often get asked, what capacity does a spill kit need to have in proportion to the container(s) it is designed to cover. Unfortunately there is no set rule of thumb for this in relation to a % of the container size.
For an area with numerous small containers of 25 litres or less we would typically recommend a 50 litre grab bag or a more robust 120 litre wheelie bin. These would give an absorbency capacity of between 200-500% of a 25 litre container.
If you scale these ratios up you would require a spill kit of 400-1200 litres for an oil drum, 2000-5000 litres for an IBC and exponentially more for bulk storage tanks. So clearly it is not feasible to use a capacity % as a guide.
It is also improtant to note that on many spills you would not collect the bulk of liquid using absorbents.
In situations where you may be dealing with a mass release of 1000s of litres it would be impetrative to contain the spill in line with the spill containment hierarchy. If you have manged to deploy the spill kit contents effectively, particularly drain protection, you would have a substantial quantity of liquid contained on the surface. This would be much more feasible to recover in bulk via a pump or tanker than to deploy absorbents. Once the bulk has been removed the remainder of the clean up can be completed with absorbents.
Spill kits can range in size but typical spill kit sizes are 20L, 60L, 120L, 240L, 600L and 1000L. The size of your spill kit will be governed by the size of the spill you are likely to encounter, as well as other site conditions.
What you need in your spill kit will all depend on what liquids are likely to be spilled, what quantities are likely to be spilled and the layout of your site. All spill kits will require PPE, hazardous waste bags and absorbents. If a spill is likely to come from a punctured container then you will need dammit paste and if it is likely occur near to drainage then you will need drain protection. If your spill is potentially very large or may enter a river then you may also need booms.
To decide on the absorbent material you use you need to identify what liquid could be spilled.
If it is a chemical e.g. acids, alkalis and corrosive chemicals you will need chemical absorbents which are yellow.
If it likely to be oil e.g. hydrocarbons - diesel, petrol, oil based paints, lubricants and solvents you will need oil absorbents which are blue/white, these are hydrophobic so will not absorb water, only the oil.
If the spill could be coolants, water, detergents and mild chemical solutions then you will need maintenance absorbents which are grey, these will absorb and any liquids.
If you are still unsure on what you need in your spill kit we offer free advice over the phone/via email or a site survey where we can identify potential pollutant sources and recommend suitable spill kits to mitigate these. We can also suggest other mitigation methods where spill kits alone are not the best option e.g. secondary/tertiary containment.
"Process specific emergency spill kits (acid, alkali, solvent, toxic etc) and appropriate personal protective equipment should be readily available with supporting procedures. These spill kits should be maintained on a regular basis to ensure that they are always available and fit for purpose. This ensures that the most appropriate measure is at hand to deal with a spill or fire in the most effective way."
HSE guidance - Emergency response / spill control
Environment Agency guidance - Pollution prevention for businesses