SUPERCEDED Ohio University Policy and Procedure

Chemical Spill Response Procedure

SUPERCEDED on January 6, 2004

Current Version

Procedure No.:   44.106

Page No.:        1, 2, 3, and 4 of 4

Date Issued:     10/12/98

Issued By:       J. D. Matthews

Previous Policy  Previous Page  Next Page  Next Policy

Numeric Index -Policy and Procedure- Alpha Index


To provide University personnel with information to assist in the decision making process when faced with a significant chemical spill.


It is the University's policy to ensure all faculty, staff, students and other employees are aware of the following procedures when appropriate. A specific policy is, all spaces handling, storing or using liquid hazardous materials shall have available enough absorbent to mitigate a spill equal to the largest size container of liquid in the space.



  1. What determines significance? If additional help is needed the spill is considered significant.

If the spill in considered significant:

A.   Inside a building

  1. The fire alarm shall be activated and the building must be evacuated.

  2. When leaving, close the door and notify as many people as possible that there is a chemical spill. (A warning "Chemical Spill" should be communicated to all.)

  3. Ensure the alarm has been reported by calling 911.

  4. Wait outside for the Fire Department to arrive and report to the Fire Chief or designated person in charge.

    The acronym CARE is an easy way to remember what to do. The procedure may not be in the same order. Close the door, activate the Alarm, Report the incident and Evacuate the building.

B.   Outside of a building

  1. Stay clear of danger.

    [Here begins page 2 of the hardcopy version.]

  2. Call 911 and report the spill.

  3. Do everything possible to keep others away from the spill without risking personal safety.

  4. Wait for the Fire Department to arrive and report to the Fire Chief or designated person in charge.

The Fire Department will make an assessment based on information and other resources available and decide which option to take. All instructions will come from the person in charge at the scene. This will be the Fire Chief unless otherwise delegated.

If it is absolutely believed that an alarm response is not warranted, and it is decided not to pull the fire alarm and/or call 911, seek the the opinion of the immediate supervisor and/or Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), phone 593-1666 and ask for a person in charge.

If individuals are familiar with the spilled material and are comfortable with cleaning the material up, it should cautiously be cleaned up.

If the material is well isolated but it is known the room is not safe to be occupied, EHS will assist in contacting a chemical spill cleanup team. In this case, clearly label all entrances to the space with signs "Do Not Enter, Chemical Spill."

Things to consider in this situation:

  1. Is the material flammable? Could there be a fire and/or explosion?

  2. Can the space ventilation system carry vapors and fumes to another space?

  3. Can the crack around the door be sealed so the vapors will not flow into the hallway?

  4. 4. Is there a path for a liquid to run down to the next level? (This can be around pipes that go through floors under sinks that are hidden by cabinets. It is recommended the room below be secured just in case.)

[Here begins page 3 of the hardcopy version.]

The spill situation requires judgment calls. Always err to the safe side, do not take chances.

The Fire Chief, Campus Safety and Environmental Health and Safety have the emergency pager number to contact a contractor for emergency chemical spill cleanup.


The size of or quantity of chemical spill is not the major concern. The major concern is the life threatening potential of the spill. Flammability, chemical toxicity and concentration are very important factors in determining if a spill is significant or insignificant.

If a person in an environment and the containers of chemicals around you are not familiar, then any spill is of concern.

The reality of the situation is that we instantly start assessing the situation with our senses:

If none of the above is occurring, it is likely the spill would be considered insignificant (even though it may have chronic health or environmental significance). If in a laboratory, the possibility of the chemical being concentrated and highly reactive are much greater than if in a kitchen where commerical consumer product type chemicals would be expected.

If any of the above have not occurred, the label would likely be read and from that information, the spill would be considered insignificant and cleaned up, or the spill would be considered significant and help would be called.

[Here begins page 4 of the hardcopy version.]

If familiar with the contents of containers and the environment it is in and a spill occurs, the response will be commensurate with the knowledge about the chemicals. This chemical may smell, burn the eyes and throat, but due to knowledge of the chemical, it is known that mild symptoms occur even though the environment is not considered harmful. In this case, the spill is likely to be considered insignificant. If the properties of the chemical are well known, it is likely a regularly used chemical.

This very same chemical spill will be a significant spill to a different person. For the purpose of this procedure, if it is necessary for additional help to be called, consider the spill to be significant.


Emergency spill clean up with initially by funded by Environmental Health and Safety. EHS reserves the right to invoice parties involved.

Return to the top.

Previous Policy  Previous Page  Next Page  Next Policy

Numeric Index -Policy and Procedure- Alpha Index

Dick Piccard revised this file ( on January 6, 2004.

Please E-mail any comments or suggestions to "".