The task of handling chemicals is not an easy one. There are a lot of things that could go wrong – and sometimes, things do go wrong. If and when a chemical spill occurs, you must be on the lookout for these three main hazards so as to properly apply the necessary troubleshooting procedures.
There are chemicals that can easily be ignited by heat, flames or even the slightest of sparks. With this said, it is important that you immediately contain and seal off the area in which the incident transpired.
Air and Water Reactivity
When a chemical is reactive to air and/or water, it is in danger of decomposing, oxidising, or reacting violently upon exposure to air and/or moisture. Examples of these include sodium metal, metal hydrides, metal amides, and alkyls and aryls, which are reactive to water, as well as metal carbonyls and alkali metals, which are reactive to air. Again, containment of the area is a must.
Chemicals like formic acid, glacial acetic acid, and butyric acid are highly corrosive. This means that upon introduction to any surface, they quickly cause burning, and worse, erosion. Some are even highly combustible while others cause serious harm if you happen to inhale their fumes. Corrosive chemicals should be appropriately labelled, at all times, with all the necessary safety gear in place for proper handling during a spill.
Knowing these immediate hazards posed by chemical spills in the workplace or factory will help you to proactively plan the most appropriate troubleshooting guidelines. With knowledge of these risks, your spill response kit and arsenal—ideally an assortment of gear, from spill containment bunds to all sorts of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) — will help you deal with a highly volatile situation.