Chemical Spill

EH&S Spill Response: 392-8400 (392-1111 UPD After-Hours)

Regional Poison Center: 1-800-222-1222

 

UF lab and maintenance personnel should only clean up incidental spills** and releases; specially trained personnel should respond to all other spills or releases.

Incidental Chemical Spill*

  • Alert personnel in the immediate area. Avoid breathing vapors and try to determine what has spilled.
  • Turn off ignition sources in the immediate area
  • If someone has been splashed with chemical, immediately flush the affected area with copious amounts of water for at least 15 minutes. Follow the personal injury/exposure incident guidance.
  • Wear protective equipment including safety goggles, disposable gloves, shoe covers, and long-sleeve lab coat.
  • Confine the spill to a small area.
  • Use a commercial kit or the materials discussed in the Lab Safety Guide to pick-up spilled materials. Place the used absorbent in a plastic bag, label the bag with a UF waste tag, and include it in the next hazardous waste pickup.
  • Clean spill area with water.
  • See special procedures for a Mercury Spill.

Large Chemical Spill/Release

  • Avoid breathing vapors. Quickly identify the spilled material if it can be done safely.
  • If the spill involves a flammable liquid, turn off all ignition sources if it can be done safely.
  • Immediately evacuate the area, closing all doors.
  • If someone has been splashed with chemical, immediately flush the affected area with copious amounts of water for at least 15 minutes. Follow the personal injury/exposure incident guidance.
  • Keep all personnel away from the spill area until EH&S/Emergency personnel arrive to evaluate and control the situation. Place a sign at all doors to the spill location advising personnel not to enter the room.
  • Personnel most knowledgeable about the spilled material should be available to provide information to EH&S/Emergency personnel.

Immediately request emergency response assistance through the University Police Department at 2-1111 under the following circumstances:

  • The release requires immediate attention because of imminent danger;
  • The release requires evacuation/control of employees beyond the immediate spill area (e.g. any toxic material spill in a hallway or other public area)
  • The release poses a serious threat of fire or explosion;
  • The release may cause high levels of exposure to toxic substances that are uncontained;
  • The situation is unclear or important information is lacking.

If the release does not meet any of the criteria describe above, yet exceeds the scope of incidental release call EH&S at 392-8400 or 392-1591 for assistance.


Pre-planning is required to respond safely to any chemical spill. While these guidelines provide general information for chemical spills, personnel should be knowledgeable of the specific actions given in their laboratory chemical hygiene plan or site emergency plans. Spill kits with absorbents and protective equipment should be available to clean up spills. Lab personnel should know the location of the kits and how to use them. See the UF Laboratory Safety Guide for more information.

*An incidental spill is the release of a hazardous substance that does not pose a significant safety or health hazard to employees in the immediate vicinity or to the employee cleaning it up. Nor does it have the potential to become an emergency (e.g. fire) within a short time frame. Incidental releases are limited in quantity, exposure potential, or toxicity and present minor safety or health hazards to employees in the immediate work area or those assigned to clean them up.

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