A Comprehensive Safety Guide for Professionals Working with Hazardous Chemicals.

 

If you really think about it, life as we know it would be an alien concept without the brave men and women who love playing with hazardous chemicals.

From chemists and chemical engineers to healthcare professionals and DIY buffs, the world wouldn’t be the same without the wonders of chemistry.

For example, these 5 chemistry inventions have made our modern civilization possible:

working with hazardous chemicals: Chemistry inventions that changed the world

5 chemistry inventions that changed the world. Source: The Conversation

 

Without going deep into the science of it all, we can already conclude that chemistry is one of the most important fields of study in the world. 

With a reputation like that, it only makes sense that the benefits of fiddling with hazardous chemicals are just as intense as the risks.

Even the slightest exposure to acidic chemicals or toxic solvents can send you to the hospital and leave you with long-term injuries.

It’s for this simple reason that chemical and spillage safety should always be the top priority for people working with harmful substances. 

That’s where we come in. 

We’re going to help you answer some of the most common questions we get about chemical spill safety, as well as provide you with the most important emergency procedures for spill safety.

The next time you wonder what you should do if you spill a chemical, think back to this complete guide for all professionals working with hazardous chemicals.

 

 

Let’s get into it.

Table of Contents

Intro: How Chemcial Spill Safety Can Save Your Life
Everything You Need to Know About Spill Kits
What are Chemical Absorbents & Why Are They Essential?
3 PVC Products You Don’t Know You Need
A Crash Course for Emergency Safety Showers
How to Use Eyewash Stations Properly
First Aid Kits – Are They the Ultimate Safety Must-have?
Spill Safety Consumables

 

P.S., You can use the navigation tools on the right-hand side to quick-scroll through the different sections in this Spill Kit and Spillage Safety guide. Otherwise, you can scroll right back up to the index by clicking the up arrow on the bottom right-hand side of your screen.

Happy reading! 

 

What is a Spill Kit & Why Do I Need One?

 

A Spill kit is an all-in-one safety kit that is designed to contain and clean up accidental chemical spills. Used for spill containment, spill kits contain items that can help you clean up accidental chemical spills before they cause any harm to you, your people, or your equipment. 

Spill kits allow you to clean up chemical spills in the safest and most efficient way. While the OSH Act doesn’t specifically require a workplace to have spill kits handy, the act does emphasize the importance of keeping employees safe while working with hazardous chemicals. 

 

Common Hazardous Chemicals a Spill Kit Can Clean

Spill kits are ideal for containing and cleaning up several kinds of harmful chemicals, including:

 

What is Inside A Chemical Spill Kit?

Different spill kits are packed with different items. Here at Afrisupply, we offer 3 different kinds of spill kits that all come with different PPE and spill containment equipment. We’ll get into more detail about them a little later. Our spill kits are mostly supplied in rip-proof PVC carry bags and contain a range of spillage safety products.

Generally, every spill kit should have the following contents:

  • Absorbents. Above all else, spill kits need to contain the right kinds of absorbents to handle hazardous chemical spills.
  • Instruction guide. A spill kit that doesn’t come with a comprehensive set of instructions is a spill kit you shouldn’t trust. 
  • Dustpan, brush, & mask. Some spill kits, especially the universal kits, will come with the equipment you need to safely clean up your floor after containing a spill.
  • Heavy-duty recovery bags. These will allow you to safely carry or dispose of contaminated items and equipment.
  • Inventory guide. Spill kits should always come complete with an inventory guide to help you keep track of your items.

 

This spill kit checklist is only the tip of the iceberg though. Different kinds of spill kits contain a variety of different products that are designed to help prevent or mitigate chemical spills. Finding the right one for your specific needs depends on your work environment, as well as the most common chemicals that you work with.

For example, spill kits used in hospitals may contain several additional items such as biological absorbents that are designed to clean up blood and urine – you wouldn’t normally find these items in spill kits made for different work environments.

 

 

 

The 3 Types of Spill Kits on The Market

These are the 3 types of spill containment kits available to you:

 

Universal Spill Kits, aka General Purpose kits

Universal spill kits are general purpose and can be used to clean up several different kinds of chemical spills. As the name suggests, the purpose of universal spill kits is to clean and contain both water-based liquids as well as hydrocarbons. General-purpose kits come with gray (or universal) absorbents, making them effective for cleaning up water and oils.

Learn More About Universal Spill Kits…

Afrisupply Universal Wheelie Bin Spill Kit

 

Marine Spill Kits, aka Oil-only Kits

Marine spill kits contain white (oil only) absorbents and have the purpose of cleaning up hydrocarbons like oil and gasoline. The absorbent contents found in this kit are hydrophobic, which means they can repel and float on water, therefore providing a more effective cleanup when coming into contact with hydrocarbons.

Learn More About Marine Spill Kits…

Afrisupply Oil Wheelie Bin Spill Kit

 

 

Chemical Spill Kits, aka Workshop or Hazmat Kits

Hazmat spill kits are designed to deal with the most hazardous chemicals such as acids and solvents. They contain yellow (or chemical) absorbents, as well as a range of PPE, that can help you safely contain and clean harmful chemical spills. 

Learn More About Chemical Spill Kits…

Afrisupply Chemical Wheelie Bin Spill Kit

 

 

 

 

What is Spill Kit Training? Everything You Need to Know

It’s as simple as it sounds. Spill kit training involves practical training on how, when, and where you should use spill kits for different kinds of spills. It teaches you how to use spill kits safely & properly, and includes all the best practices of how to prevent or mitigate hazardous chemical spills using spill kits. Here’s the English version of our spill kit training video:

Spill Kit Training (English)

 

If you’d like to access this video in Zulu, French, or Portuguese, click here.

 

 

 

 

Chemical Absorbents: Everything You Need To Know

The main feature of any chemical spill kit will always be chemical absorbents. In this section, we’re going to take a closer look at these products, zoom a bit into the different kinds of absorbents available, as well as give you all the clarity you need to make an informed purchasing decision.

 

What is a Chemical Absorbent?

Formally known as Sorbents, chemical absorbents are materials or mixtures thereof that are used to recover, clean, or contain chemicals and liquid substances through absorption.

Chemical absorbents can be used to clean, recover, or contain any number of chemicals – it all depends on the kinds of chemicals that you’re working with. To achieve this, sorbents must be both oleophilic (oil-attracting) and hydrophobic (water-repellent)

Chemical absorbents are used mostly to clean up small to medium chemical spills, and can also be used to effectively remove trace amounts of substances that cannot be reached by skimmers. There are a few different types of chemical absorbents you can use to clean up a spill, let’s take a closer look.

 

3 different types of chemical absorbents

Coco Peat Absorbent

Made from the highest grade of coco husk, Coco Peat absorbents are ideal for eco-friendly spill clean-ups. Coco Peat absorbents can clean up a variety of hazardous chemicals, including oils, diesel, fuels, and grease in an environmentally friendly way.

This sorbent is 100% natural, renewable, and bio-degradable – it’s extracted from the husks of coconuts. This chemical absorbent has superior lignin and cellular structure that makes it ideal for effectively absorbing hydrocarbons like grease and petroleum.

If you’d like to learn more about our Coco Peat Absorbents, check out this comprehensive blog article.

 

Biological Absorbent Granules

Biological absorbent granules are non-toxic, non-corrosive absorbents that come in the form of granules. They’re used mainly to clean up bodily fluid spills such as blood, urine, and emesis (puke). These sorbents are ideal for hospitals, clinics, and most healthcare facilities.

These granules are eco-friendly and non-bleaching – they can be used on virtually any surface without damaging the surface’s materials. Biological absorbent granules are simple; once placed on a spill, they react with the liquids to create a gel. This gel can then be easily scooped up and disposed of without exposing you to the spillage.

 

 

 

Remediation agents

Before we dive into these types of chemical absorbents, it’s useful to know what bioremediation is and what it entails. In a nutshell, bioremediation is the process of using microbes to help clean up contaminated soil and groundwater. Bioremediation agents can be used to clean up different kinds of chemical spillages, including those caused by petroleum, solvents, and pesticides. 

A microbe is a very small organism (like bacteria) that lives and prospers naturally in an ecosystem. The process of bioremediation stimulates the growth of certain microbes which use certain contaminants as food and/or energy sources. 

By nature, bioremediation is a catalyst for natural contamination clean-up and requires no additional man-made substances. If you’d like to go further in-depth about the bioremediation process, check out this handy PDF. 

 

 

 

3 PVC Products You Didn’t Know You Need

Before we get into our checklist of essential PVC products you should have when working with hazardous chemicals, let’s take a look at the definition of PVC:

 

Polyvinyl Chloride, more coomonly known as PVC, is the 3rd most produced synthetic product in the world. This material can be used to manufacture a broad variety of products ranging from pipes and plastics to bottles and containers. In this section, we’re going to take a look at three common PVC products you can use if you work with hazardous chemicals.

 

 

PVC Water Containers

What are PVC water containers? In short, they are durable water containers made from PVC that give you all the functionality of regular water containers, while offering the strength and reliability of polyvinyl chloride.

PVC Water containers can be used in a number of different applications, including portable water storage, decontamination pools, shower catchment pools, and several more. Their makeup allows for portability and ease of use, all the while providing the strength and durability you always get with PVC. 

Afrisupply PVC water containers are some of the most convenient portable water storage solutions in South Africa currently on the market. Here are a few benefits you’ll get with our water storage PVC containers:

  • Our water containers are manufactured using 550gsm of durable PVC;
  • They’re UV Resistant;
  • They can store water outside where there’s maximum exposure to the elements;
  • These portable PVC water containers are fully collapsible and easily transportable;
  • Our water containers are easy to clean;
  • They can be made to your specific needs and requirements.

Afrisupply PVC water containers can also be used as shower catchment pools, spill containment units, and decontamination pools. Check out this video to learn more!

 

 

PVC Bags

PVC is a strong and durable material that can be shaped into almost any product you need, including a variety of bags you can use in several applications. Here at Afrisupply, we offer the following types of PVC bags:

  • Tool bags. These are 100% waterproof, durable bags you can use to store and carry your tools. They come equipped with multiple pockets to help organise your tools and include shoulder straps to make them easier to carry.

 

  • Hunting bags. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, easy-to-carry, and easy-to-clean hunting bag that is designed to your specifications and requirements, you’ve come to the right place. Our PVC hunting bags are the perfect solution for any kind of hunting trip; through rain, shine, and snow, you can rest assured that our PVC bags will keep your hunting equipment safe and secured.

 

  • Fishing bags. Are you looking for a reliable fishing bag for sale? Look no further! Our PVC fishing bags offer you all the convenience that our other PVC bags offer, but with 1 key difference: they’re made to help enhance your fishing experience. Fully portable and manufactured to your specific requirements, Afrisupply fishing bags are ideal for every fishing trip.

 

  • Custom bags. If you need a bag made for a very specific application, Afrisupply can sort you out with a custom-made PVC bag that meets your specifications to a tee.


If you’d like to learn more about our PVC bags, get in touch with us!

 

 

PVC Aprons

Here at Afrisupply, we believe that every individual working with hazardous chemicals should be protected with multiple layers of PPE. Our PVC aprons aim to do exactly that: add a redundant but necessary extra layer of protection for people working with harmful substances. 

Offering 100% of the protection, portability, and lightweight properties of all our PVC products, our PVC aprons are ideal for use in several environments, including factories, laboratories, hospitals, and many more.

These aprons can be manufactured to your specific needs and requirements and offer protection from harmful substances like acids, corrosives, and hydrocarbons. They can be designed to fit just about anyone, and offer a level of versatility that not many other kinds of PPE can grant.

 

 

A Crash Course for Emergency Safety Showers

Working with hazardous chemicals comes with the obligation to practice the utmost caution at all times. Emergency showers are some of the most basic yet important precautionary measures that anyone working with hazardous materials should invest in, and for good reason too.

Afrisupply Double Column Foot Operated Emergency Safety Shower

 

What is an emergency shower?

In short, emergency showers are small shower units that provide on-the-spot decontamination. Emergency showers are used to flush away any hazardous chemicals on their skin and avoid serious injury. They come in a few shapes and sizes and are also handy for extinguishing fires as well as removing harmful contaminants on clothing items.

Emergency showers and eyewash stations (which we’ll dive further into later on), are crucial in the workplace to help mitigate any harm that may be caused by accidental exposure to hazardous materials, chemicals, or otherwise.

 

In this section, we’re going to answer the question of ‘what is an emergency safety shower’, as well as cover a quick crash course on how to effectvely use emergency showers.

 

A Crash Course on Emergency Safety Showers

The first 10-15 seconds after exposure to high-risk substances (especially those with corrosive properties) are absolutely critical; you should never delay getting yourself into an emergency shower to decontaminate when you’re exposed to hazardous chemicals.

According to most safety laws, emergency showers should be able to run for a minimum of 15 minutes while in a decontamination process. This can be split into different segments for different kinds of decontamination, for example:

  • 5 minutes for mild or non-irritant substances;
  • Up to 20 minutes for medium to severe irritants, as well as chemicals that can cause acute toxicity when absorbed by the skin;
  • At least 30 minutes for most corrosive chemicals, and; 
  • Up to 60 minutes for strong alkalis such as sodium, calcium hydroxide, and potassium.

 

 

 

Moving on, let’s talk about when emergency showers should be used. There are several scenarios in which emergency safety showers come into play. Below, we’ll take a look at two of them as outlined by the OSH Act. Emergency showers should be used when:

  • An employee is exposed or can potentially be exposed to substances that can potentially cause harm or injury if absorbed by the skin;
  • An employee is exposed or can be exposed to a small, medium, or a large amount of toxic, corrosive, high-risk, or similarly hazardous substance.

Here’s a comprehensive training video from the Environmental Health and Safety Iowa State University for how to use emergency safety showers, we hope this helps!

 

 

How to Use an Eyewash Station

 

As we mentioned in the previous section, eyewash stations are absolute must-haves when working with hazardous chemicals.

Essentially, you are required by law to have an eyewash station that is easily and quickly accessible by your employees. This is because disaster can strike when we least expect it; an eyewash station can save your eyesight if used timeously and correctly.

Afrisupply Emergency Eye Wash Station, Wall Mountable

 

What is an eyewash station? We’re glad you asked! in a nutshell, eyewash stations are designed to help people thoroughly flush out their eyes when exposed to harmful chemicals. Often, suppliers provide units that include both emegrnecy showers and eyewash stations.

At the end of the day, the purpose of eyewash stations and emergency showers is to help people repsond quickly and effectively when exposed to harmful chemicals. In this section, we’re going to give you a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to use an eyewash station the right way.

 

How to use an eyewash station: a step-by-step guide

Step 1: Don’t waste any time after exposure to a hazardous chemical

As soon as a hazardous substance touches your eyes, you should never hesitate to rush to the nearest eyewash station. 

There are regulations that define where an eyewash station should be located. These stations should be easily and quickly accessible by employees; according to the OSH Act, eyewash stations should be located at a minimum of 3-6 metres away from a potential hazard (or where hazardous substances are being worked with).

Step 2: Activate the eyewash unit

The activation lever for these units should be clearly marked and easily operable in one single motion. Once you’ve arrived at the station, push the activation lever; the dust covers will open and allow the unit to start pouring out water.

Step 3: Flush out your eyes thoroughly

Once you’ve activated the unit, it will start discharging water for at least 15 minutes, making it easy for you to operate hands-free.

Using your fingers to keep your eyelids open, lower your eyes into the path of the discharging water. Then, gently roll your eyes up, down, left, and right to ensure that the water reaches every inch of your exposed eyeballs.

If you use contact lenses, it isn’t advised for you to delay the flushing to take them out. Rather, it’s recommended that you start flushing your eyes right away and only take out your lenses after a few seconds.

Step 4: Don’t stop flushing

Continue flushing out your eyes in this manner for a minimum of 15 minutes., don’t stop until you’ve reached this mark. 15 minutes is the minimum amount of time it takes to properly flush out your eyes; if you remove your eyes before the minimum amount of time has elapsed, you risk incurring permanent damage to your eyes.

Step 5: Post-flushing routine

Once you’ve flushed out your eyes for the right amount of time, you should immediately seek medical assistance. It’s advised that you ask a friend or colleague to drive you to the closest hospital.

Don’t convince yourself to do the driving yourself as your vision could be impaired and put you at risk of getting into an accident.

 

 

First Aid Kits – Are They the Ultimate Safety Must-have?

 

The short answer? YES.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we’re going to use this section to cover everything from the essential contents that every first aid kit should have, to a miniguide into keeping your first aid kits up to date. 

 

 

First aid kit Checklist: 16 Essential Items Your Home Kit Should Always Have

  1. Strong adhesive tape.
  2. An anesthetic spray or lotion you can use to treat itching, rashes, and insect bites.
  3. A bunch of 4×4-inch sterile gauze pads that you can use for covering and cleaning wounds, as well as to use as a soft eye patch.
  4. 2″, 3″, and 4″ Ace bandages you can use for wrapping sprained or strained joints, as well as for wrapping gauze on open wounds, and for wrapping on splints.
  5. Adhesive bandages of as many sizes as you can fit.
  6. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) – this is an oral antihistamine used to treat and counter allergic reactions, itching, and rashes. We advise that you avoid topical antihistamine creams because they could worsen the rash in some people.
  7. Examination gloves for infection protection, they can also be made into ice packs when filled with cold water or solid ice.
  8. Polysporin antibiotic cream that you can quickly apply to basic wounds.
  9. Non-adhesive pads (we recommend Telfa pads) that you can use for covering open wounds and burns.
  10. A pocket mask for administering CPR;
  11. Two or three resealable oven bags that can be used as containers for contaminated items, and can also be used as ice packs;
  12. Large and small safety pins you can use to remove splinters, as well as for securing a triangular bandage sling.
  13. A pair of handy scissors.
  14. A triangular bandage (or two) that can be used as a sling, towel, or tourniquet. 
  15. A pair of tweezers to be used for splinter, stinger, or tick removal;
  16. Finally, in the case of a medical or trauma-related emergency, you should always carry a list of your family members’ medical history, medications, doctors, insurance companies, as well as the contact details of the relevant medical personnel.

 

How To Keep Your First Aid Kit Up To Date

Your first aid kit is the first line of defense when you or a loved one gets injured, whether it be in your home or while you’re out on an adventure. Knowing how often your first aid kit should be refreshed with new medical equipment could help you out in sticky situations, especially if you and yours enjoy living life on the edge.

Your first aid kit should be filled with a bunch of useful items, such as bandages, adhesive tape, and examination gloves, among many others. If you’d like to learn more about what your first aid kit should have in it, scroll back up to the previous section.

How often should you refresh your first aid kit items?

Most items in any first aid kit don’t last forever. Typically, the medical items in most kits can last you for up to 5 years after they’ve been manufactured.

Besides that, your medical items, whether they heal or mitigate pain, are also vulnerable to damage or corrosion caused by frequent use, as well as exposure to the elements (including air and moisture).

There isn’t a set-in-stone guide on how often you should replace the equipment in your first aid kit. Rather, this exercise should be done on a case-by-case basis. 

You need to know when your equipment expires, as well as be able to thoroughly inspect your medical items at least every 2 months. This will ensure that you’re never caught off-guard, and also does well to help you keep your medical aid kit properly updated.

 

 

How can you inspect your medical kit?

There’s a lot that should go into your bimonthly inspections, let’s take a look at three considerations to make when inspecting your first aid kit:

 

Check the first aid kit bag or container

The first thing you should inspect is the condition of the first aid kit itself. If it has a zipper, make sure it can still close correctly. If it features any metal or plastic, check those elements for any rust or degradation. Don’t forget to check all the hinges and locks as well!

 

Check the dressings and bandages

So as long as they remain in good condition, sterile dressings and bandages can last you a very long time because they don’t expire. However, if a sterile item is opened, it needs to either be used or discarded.

When checking these items, be sure to look for any signs of damage, as well as discolouration or mildew. If after the inspection you’re still not sure whether you should replace one of these items or not, take the safer bet and replace them anyway.

 

3. Inspect Your Gauzes

When checking your gauzes, look for signs of damage, discoloration, as well as condensation. If the seal on your roll of gauze has been compromised, you can still use this item, but it will no longer be sterile – keep that in mind!

 

 

Spill Safety Consumables You Should Always Have in Handy

 

As we’ve mentioned throughout this entire blog, spill safety is one of the first things you should consider when working with hazardous chemicals.

We’ve covered 6 of the most important spill safety products that you should always have in your workplace; to wrap up this ultimate guide to working with hazardous chemicals, we’re going to briefly highlight a couple of safety consumables you should never be without.

 

Heavy-Duty Recovery Bags

Afrisupply Heavy Duty recovery Bag

 

These consumables can be easily mistaken as disposal black bags; while they may look similar, recovery bags are magnitudes stronger and more resistant to corrosives than standard refuse bags. 

Heavy-duty recovery bags are made from polyethylene, a thermoplastic with a diverse crystalline structure that allows it to be used in multiple applications. Polyethene is one of the most used plastics in the world.

Heavy-duty recovery bags are highly durable and are ideal for waste removal, especially for hazardous waste that needs to be disposed of with the utmost care.

Learn More About Heavy-Duty Recovery Bags…

 

Chemtape

Afrisupply Chemtape

Chemtape is a specially designed tape made for effectively taping the seams and openings of PPE clothing and hazmat suits. Its special design provides a strong chemical resistance and adhesion for PPE and hazmat suits; this patented tape also provides seamless and effective taping for gloves, boots, respirators, and storm flaps.

If you’d like to learn more about how to use Chemtape, check out the video below from 탑세이프티Topsafety:

 

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