The Risk Management Committee at my college is revamping our "Emergency Protocol Guide" for campus. Regarding chemical spills, they have asked me what should be on the chart when there is a chemical spill.
One member suggested that when a large spill occurs, the person should pull the fire alarm. Even for a pretty nasty spill, I am uncomfortable with that recommendation. I am worried that
- the fire department will be summoned for moderate-large spills of innocuous chemicals
- the FD will come for very small spills of hazardous chemicals, when the actual danger is pretty low
As a relatively new CHO, it seems to me that for chemical spills, the protocol would be to have a person call the FD if a chemistry professor determines that it is necessary.
In my teaching career, we have only had one nasty spill (boiling nitric acid spilled out of the hood and everyone started choking), which we mitigated by evacuating the lab and waiting until the lab ventilation system cleaned most of it out. Then we went in and mopped it up with bicarbonate.
I am interested in your thoughts, advice or experiences.
Associate Professor of Chemistry
1601 N. Benton Ave.
Helena, MT 59625-0002
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