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Handling Chemical Spills, Leaks and Explosions

An estimated 10% of employee fatalities stem from chemical exposure each year.

Storing or handling chemicals in the workplace puts all employees at risk. Workers like you could experience serious injuries (or even fatalities) in the event of a chemical spill, leak or explosion on the job. With this in mind, it’s crucial to take steps to minimize chemical exposures in the workplace and understand how to safely respond if a chemical incident does occur.

Prevention Practices

The main priority when working with chemicals is to follow all necessary precautions to help prevent a spill, leak or explosion from taking place. You can contribute to that goal by:

  • Having a clear understanding of the chemicals you’re working with, including any hazards
  • Referring to a chemical’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or consulting your supervisor if you’re unsure of the chemical’s specific hazards and protective measures
  • Upholding all workplace policies and procedures related to chemical safety
  • Making sure all chemicals are properly labeled and safely stored in their respective containers

Responding to a Chemical Incident

If a chemical spill, leak or explosion happens in the workplace, utilize these steps:

  • Notify your supervisor and any other employees in the area immediately.
  • Identify the chemical(s) involved and refer to their associated SDSs to determine whether the incident is hazardous in nature. If the incident is considered hazardous or causes a fire or explosion, be sure to:
  • Activate on-site emergency alarms and call 911.
  • Instruct others to clear the area and follow all workplace evacuation protocols.
  • Avoid engaging in chemical cleanup procedures unless you are properly trained to do so.