Anatomy of a Spill Kit

Having a well thought out spill kit ensures you are prepared for the inevitable.

The type(s) of liquid and quantities determine the size, contents, how many and where to position them.

1. Who needs Spill Kits?

There are many regulations that require facilities to be prepared for spills. However, there is no specific requirements on spill kit sizing.  As every facility is different, each facility must practice Due Diligence to determine the best way to be prepared.

2. What is a Spill Kit?

A well-stocked and designed spill kit is a collection of response tools, sorbents and personal protection equipment (PPE) that will enable a trained responder to safely and effectively respond to spills. A well-designed spill kit will contain everything necessary to stop, or mitigate the effects of an accidental release.

Spill kits come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Example: A transport truck may have a bolt-on chassis style kit or a compact behind the seat kit. Whereas a manufacturing plant would have a larger more robust kit available.

3. How big of a Spill Kit is needed?

It depends on the potential size of a spill. A few things need to be considered when answering this question:

  • What is the worst-case (biggest spill) scenario?
  • Which areas are at risk in the facility due to what fluids.
  • Are other mitigation measures incorporated into your plan?

Spill kits are usually placed in multiple “at risk“ areas such as loading docks, fluid dispensing stations and waste collection areas.

In some cases, it may not be practical to expect to absorb the entire spill. Example: a facility that stores very large volumes of diesel for their transport trucks. Typically, a facility like this would have mandatory secondary containment to prevent a total release into the environment. The spill kit is in place to handle fuel transfer releases of a much smaller amount.

4. Are all Spill Kits the same?

If they are generic, off the shelf kits that is likely. But a kit designed with a specific risk in mind is probably unique. As spill kits are used to respond to many different liquids; the sorbents, tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) should match the liquids that may be spilled.

5. What should a typical Spill Kit contain?

Spill kit contents should include a collection of sorbents, tools and personal protective items that enable a responder to effectively mitigate the potential harm from an accidental spill.

Common items included in kits are:

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): Gloves, goggles, Tyvek suits/aprons and booties
  • Drain covers and containment dikes
  • Sorbents: socks, pads and granular
  • Instant leak-stop products and fast-setting epoxy repair putties, plugs and wraps
  • Non-sparking Tools: wrenches, hammers, scoops and shovels
  • Disposal Bags to collect spent absorbents

6. What personal protective equipment (PPE) should be included in a Spill Kit?

Minimum PPE items contained in a spill kit are:

  • Splash goggles, indirect vented
  • Chemical resistant gloves, nitrile or rubber
  • Chemical resistant splash suits
  • Respirators only if previously Fit Tested

The decision on what protective gear to include in the kit should be defined by the company safety officer.

Note* Many generic off-the-shelf spill kits do not contain any PPE.

7. How should a Spill Kit be packed?

Kit contents should always be packed in the order that they will be used.

  • PPE should be stored on top as it is the first step in the actual response.
  • Sorbent socks and/or containment dikes and drain covers should follow to allow the responder to immediately contain and reduce the spread of the spill.
  • Tools and leak patching next to quickly shut down the leak.
  • Sorbent pads, pillows and granular sorbents follow to effectively absorb the spill once containment has been established.
  • Disposal bags and waste labels are last.

8. Where should Spill Kits be located?

Conducting a thorough spill risk assessment will identify which areas throughout the facility require spill kits.

Kits may be required indoors and/or outdoors. When kits are stationed outside, they should be UV, water, and rodent proof.

9. How to ensure Spill Kit integrity?

Spill Kit audits should be an assigned task and conducted on a regular schedule. Break-away seals and Tamper Tape are two ways to allow for a rapid visual drive by inspection. A full audit should be conducted every quarter to ensure all the products are in good order. Some items may have a shelf life

10. Should we provide training on how to use Spill Kits?

Most facilities do not want their employees trained to a responder level. This would entail certification, additional liability issues and perhaps a new job description and maybe additional compensation.

Most incidental or nuisance spills can be handled with basic Spill Kit Deployment Training. These incidental spills do not pose significant health or safety hazards to responders or others in the vicinity of the spill. The spill risk assessment can help set these guidelines. There is no assigned volume defining emergency versus incidental spills because the nature of the chemical, level of training, and many other conditions play roles in determining how to classify spills.