This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

Cleaning up our act in leaky situations

25 May 2010

Handling hazardous liquids, which are used in a variety of different situations and locations, can be a risky business and it is essential that correct health and safety procedure is adhered too, especially when spills occur. The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) is committed to helping improve safety and health in the work place and has been looking at relevant issues and creating initiatives to reduce the incidence of work related injury in the handling of liquid spills.

Cleaning up our act in leaky situations
Cleaning up our act in leaky situations

Although a risk assessment will help to protect employees by identifying hazards and state ways to either minimise them or protect from them e.g. by deploying personal protective equipment (PPE) and other specialist safety equipment, in the case of liquids, there is an ever present need to deal with leaks, spills and other emergencies. A thorough risk assessment should also ensure that companies are encouraged to think ahead and plan for any possible accidents.

Alan McArthur, Technical Specialist for 3M, commented: "It is essential for companies working with hazardous liquids to be prepared for the worst however it is also important for them to be realistic. The level of hazard varies significantly in different locations due to different liquids, handling and storage facilities nevertheless, unless in extraordinary circumstances it is very rare that all the chemicals on site will be spilt and therefore spills will be manageable and can be predicted to some extent. Through accurate planning and developments in standards, there is a better chance of ensuring that there will be a suitable PPE and sorbents onsite to handle emergency spills of liquid chemicals and an adequate quantity to deal with predicted spills."

However, when dealing with Hazardous liquids, selecting PPE including respiratory protection, can be very complicated as Paul Bryce, Microgard Product & Technical Manager, commented: "Conventional material safety data sheets (MSDS) simply state ‘Wear suitable protective clothing". The difficulty for a user in the selection of "suitable" chemical protective clothing is in the interpretation and understanding of the numerous European Norms and protective clothing manufacturers related performance claims."

The BSIF has highlighted some key areas for focus including; improving the quality of sorbent products and the reliability of performances being claimed; developing relevant standards to generate a level playing field in manufacturers claims on product performances and to assist user selection of products; promoting awareness [or stimulate regulatory motivation] of the need for adequate stocks of sorbents to be available close to the area where liquids are stored, handled and/or used.

In direct response to an identified issue with material datasheets, which often contain inadequate information, the BSIF, in conjunction with a number of stakeholders including the Environment Agency, has developed a guidance document to assist Emergency Services and other industrial users of liquid chemicals select the most appropriate sorbent to deal with liquid spills. As these products are not regulated it is very confusing for those responsible to select appropriate sorbents with just reference to manufacturer’s claims. Therefore the BSIF, through ongoing work with other key representatives such as the Environment Agency, the Fire Services and the MoD, is working towards the development of a specialist performance standard for sorbents. By using part 4 of BS 7959 as drafted by the BSIF, sorbent performance will be judged on standardised criteria making it is easier for those needing to select products to evaluate the type and quantity they require.

Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page