• It is inevitable: spills happen
  • To effectively clean up spills, prepare for them beforehand
  • Whenever employees work with a chemical substance, they should be aware of its characteristics, and should have formulated plans of what to do in case of a spill
  • Chemical knowledge is critical when performing risk assessment and is available from material safety data sheets and EH&S
  • Specifically, employees should know
    • what steps to take
    • who to call for assistance
    • what personal protective equipment is necessary
    • what absorbent material should be used to contain and minimize the danger of a spill
    • where to find such equipment and material


  • The first steps in any chemical spill:
    • assess the magnitude
    • assess the hazard
    • assess the risk to responders and other
  • Before attempting to fight a spill, make sure employees have proper and adequate
    • personal protective equipment
    • spill treatment materials

OSU Spill Response Team

  • EH&S has developed a hazardous chemical spill response team which is readily available on short notice for dealing with spills.
  • Response team includes a vacuum designed for mercury spill cleanup
  • EH&S can be contacted by calling 7-2273. Campus Security can also be reached at 7-3010
  • The chemical spill response available from EH&S should not lessen the responsibility of individual labs to prepare plans to deal safely with small spills
  • The preparation of spill response kits at strategic locations within labs or departments is encouraged
  • EH&S will respond appropriately to reports of any size spill.


  • DEQ regulations require OSU to submit reports for spills over certain specified amounts
  • All large spills of a hazardous chemical (more than 1 gallon liquid or 1 pound solid) must be reported promptly to EH&S
  • EH&S will make the report to DEQ if necessary
  • Reporting smaller spills to EH&S is encouraged

Spill Control

  1. Spill control generally follows the same basic steps, regardless of the materials used, after the initial risk assessment
  2. Assess the magnitude, hazard, and risk of the spill
  3. Get assistance if you are unsure about your ability to control a spill
  4. Acquire and put on personal protective equipment appropriate for the situation, which should include
    • respiratory protection
    • eye protection
    • gloves
    • impervious shoes/boots
    • body protection
  5. Get spill control materials, available equipment in two general forms:
    • loose materials (vermiculite, cat litter)
    • spill control pillows, which are produced in various shapes and contain different types of absorbents.
    • Materials are available designed for specific types of chemical spills such as acids or solvents
  6. In general, liquid materials present a much greater danger than solids, and quick response is therefore critical.
  7. Contain and absorb the spill
    • dike the outside perimeter with absorbent if there is danger the spill may spread
    • absorb the spill
    • contain and absorb the material first, then try any neutralization/treatment schemes - don't try "floor chemistry"
  8. Collect the contaminated absorbent.
    • put into an impervious container, such as a heavy cardboard box with a plastic liner
    • spill pads and pillows are much easier to collect than loose absorbents
    • close the container
  9. Dispose of the material correctly - contact EH&S for waste determination and disposal
Safety Instruction Number: 
Last Update: 
Tuesday, September 11, 2007