OSHA Spill Containment Requirements

By Daniel Thompson
OSHA regulates spill containment practices for most hazardous materials.

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OSHA regulations covering spill containment are based on the rules covering hazardous materials handling. These rules apply to businesses engaged in activities ranging from manufacturing and construction to retail and hazardous waste management. The regulations governing spills cover spill prevention and management along with employee training. OSHA guidelines require that employers with hazardous materials located on-site provide employees with adequate training and equipment to safely deal with spills. These guidelines also outline specific methodologies for testing, using and maintaining personal protective equipment (PPE).

Spill Containment Program

OSHA requires that work sites containing hazardous materials maintain a site-specific safety and health plan for all phases of site operation. Among other things, this plan must contain a spill containment plan that meets OSHA standards. These standards require that containers used during cleanup meet the OSHA, DOT and EPA standards governing the spilled substance. Areas where a spill hazard exists must have approved containers and absorbent materials ready in case of a spill.

OSHA requires that major spills be completely contained using the established spill containment plan.

Spill Containment Training

Employees working with hazardous materials are required to participate in safety training before they are exposed to hazardous materials. This training must cover the contents of the overall safety and health program for the site, the names of personnel responsible for site safety and health, and the hazards present on the site. OSHA requirements for employee training mandate that employees engaged in emergency response receive training in dealing with emergency situations, including spills of hazardous materials. Employees trained for such duty are often referred to as a HAZMAT team, which OSHA defines as a group of employees trained to deal with potential leaks, spills and other incidents.

Safety Equipment

OSHA also regulates the equipment used in the containment and prevention of spills. OSHA requires that all containers and absorbent materials used for cleanup meet the related government standards. Employers are further required to provide employees with suitable safety equipment for dealing with hazardous spills. Safety equipment used for handling hazardous materials must be tested and maintained according to OSHA requirements. Employers must also provide adequate training in the use of safety equipment from a qualified source. The level of personal protective equipment that employers are required to maintain is dependent on the nature of the hazardous material involved and the level of threat it poses from skin and respiratory contact.

About the Author

Daniel Thompson began writing about analytical literature in 2004. He has written informative guides for a hardware store and was published at an academic conference as part of a collaborative project. He attained a Bachelors of Fine Arts in English literature from Eastern Kentucky University.

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