Because hazardous materials are used in laboratories, studios, workshops and service areas, a spill or accidental release may occur anywhere in the University. The University maintains an emergency response policy and procedures for the management of spills or accidental release of hazardous materials, and ensures that these comply with all federal and state legislation concerning occupational health and safety, and the protection of the environment.

Minor (or Manageable) Chemical Spill (“Incidental Spill”)

An incidental or minor spill is considered to be low toxicity, low combustibility, small amount, distinctive and tolerable odor, and weak or no acute symptoms of exposure. To manage an incidental spill:

  • Alert people in the immediate area of the spill. Isolate the area of contamination.
  • Call UNE Security to alert them of the incident and request EHS assistance.
  • Turn on or adjust (open sash fully) the chemical fume hood to increase exhaust ventilation. If the spill lies outside the hood, open the sash fully.
  • Clean the spill only after familiarizing yourself with the chemical’s physical and health hazards described on the product label, SDS, certificate of analysis, etc.
  • Find an EHS incidental spill kit.
    • Wear protective equipment available in each spill kit (splash goggles and gloves at a minimum)
  • Block the release of hazardous chemicals and oil to floor, sink, sewer, or storm drains. If spilled material reaches an environmental receptor, call UNE Security.
  • Control any spreading with a dike or with absorbent spill materials. Absorb spill with vermiculite, dry sand, diatomaceous earth, or “kitty litter,” not with paper towels or incompatible materials. Avoid walking through the spill or breathing its vapors.
  • Use an appropriate cleanup kit to neutralize inorganic acids and bases. Use a mercury spill kit for elemental mercury (thermometer) spills. Use activated charcoal for most organic solvent spills. Follow instructions on spill kit for the amount of chemicals that can be absorbed or neutralized by that particular kit.
  • Discard broken glass and other contaminated objects using forceps or appropriate tools, not gloved hands alone.
  • Collect residue, place in container, affix and complete a hazardous waste label, and place waste in your hazardous waste accumulation area.
  • After the spill is thoroughly absorbed, neutralized, and cleaned up, wash the area with soap and water. UNE Housekeeping may assist after this point to re-clean area.
  • EHS will take all spilled materials, absorbents, contaminated PPE and waste to the appropriate storage location.

 EHS will issue the lab a new incidental spill kit after the incident has been managed.

Major or Unmanageable Chemical Spill

Major spills are considered to have high toxicity, flammability, a large amount, a repelling odor or one without warning properties, acute symptoms of exposure, or a chemical that cannot be identified.

Do not attempt to clean up major, unmanageable chemical spills.

  • Alert laboratory to evacuate to a safe distance or assigned assembly area.
  • Raise the sash to the chemical fume hood (unless the spill occurred in the hood), while evacuating, if possible.
  • Turn off open heat sources: Bunsen burner, hot plate, heat gun, etc.— if spilled material is flammable and in large quantity, and if this can be accomplished safely, with haste, as you exit the space.
  • If necessary, pull the closest fire alarm pull station to evacuate the building.

Once necessary evacuations have taken place notify UNE Security of the situation so they can properly communicate with emergency services.