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Spring 2011

Hazardous Chemical Spill Refresher

The procedure for reporting chemical spills was taught in your Laboratory Safety Class, is found in the Emergency Procedures Manual that is posted in every laboratory and can be found at this link: http://www.iupui.edu/~prepared/procedures/spills/

Even though the procedures can be found in all these locations we still have personnel failing to follow our guidelines.  The greatest mistake laboratory personnel make is attempting to clean the spill up themselves.  Our office has a 24 hour on call hazmat team that is fully trained to clean up any spill you may have in your laboratory and it is FREE.  There is no reason to risk exposure by attempting to clean up a hazardous spill when our office will clean it up for you at no cost.

Here is the simple procedure that must be followed if you spill a hazardous chemical in your laboratory:

Evacuate the area or the laboratory

Immediately after a hazardous chemical is spilled you must exit the area. If the spill occurred in a laboratory and access to the fume hood is not blocked by the spill and/or hazardous vapors are not present in the area then raise the sash on the fume hood to increase the airflow.

Shut the doors and secure the area

Shut the doors to the area where the spill is located and secure the area if possible. Most laboratories are under negative pressure which will pull air from the hallway into the lab, keeping potentially hazardous vapors from spreading into other areas.

Call IUPUI Emergency Dispatch

Call 911 from a campus phone or 317-274-7911 from a non-campus phone from a safe location and give the following information:

  • Building name
  • Room number or location
  • Type of incident
  • Name of chemical spilled or description of odor if unsure of the chemical
  • Estimate of the volume of chemical spilled
Assess the situation

Determine if the spill is Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH). IDLH incidents are those that pose a significant and immediate threat to building occupants due to extreme toxicity, imminent explosion, or other life threatening scenario. These types of incidents are rare. If the spill does not pose a threat to the building occupants then remain outside the entrance to the laboratory until the spill response team arrives. If you determine that the situation is Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health, then proceed to the next step.

Pull the fire alarm

After determining that the spill poses an immediate danger to the building occupants pull the fire alarm. Activating the fire alarm will evacuate the building occupants and will also notify the Indianapolis Fire Department. Only pull the fire alarm if the spill poses an immediate danger to the building occupants.

Exit the building

Once the fire alarm has been activated exit the building. Remain at a safe distance from the main entrance of the building. If you haven't already done so, call 274-7911 and inform them why you pulled the alarm and give your information to the emergency response teams that will be arriving.

Please remember to follow the ESCAPE acronym when you spill a hazardous chemical.

Evacuate the Area or the Laboratory
Shut the Door
Call 911
Assess the Situation
Pull the Fire Alarm
Exit the Building