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Spills: Clean up or call in the HazMat team?

You can always use your intuition to decide when to clean up a spillage yourself or when get the professionals in. It can be especially difficult to make the decision when there are many chemicals in the facility, each of which has its own set of hazards. 

Workers who have learned how to clean up oil spillages from a leaking hose onto the floor of a production area, or a pan placed under a leaky drum tap get knocked over, are more likely to grab a few paper towels or absorbents and take care of the mess themselves. These aren’t considered major spillages by most people. But are they as comfortable cleaning up a 100 litre or even a 500-litre spillage? 

Knowing when to clean up a spill and when to call in professionals is an essential part of workplace health and safety. If your company’s workplace is exposed to a variety of chemicals and hazards, it can be hard to determine which situation you are in. At Cleansweep WA we know how important it is for employees to be more informed and have clear directions. This is important for allowing them to respond quickly to any incident and to ensure that they are aware of the fact that they can contact our hazmat team when they feel uneasy or unsure. 

Contact Cleansweep WA, anytime for a clear, safe, and fast response today! 


Factors you Need to Consider Before Deciding if you Will Handle the Spill by Yourself or Call in our Response team 

Here are some of the key considerations that you should be aware of: 

  • Is this an emergency or an incident? 
  • What is the hazard potential? 
  • What are the current circumstances? 
  • What does your training tell you? 

An incidental spillage is not considered a serious hazard for the worker cleaning up the spillage. These accidental spillages are usually small amounts of lower-hazard chemicals and do not pose a danger to workers. A hazardous chemical spillage is an emergency that involves unintentional exposure. It can be dangerous to human health and life and could cause an explosion or fire. Sometimes, the chemical’s volume or weight, as well as the risk of slippage and ventilation can be decisive. 


Incidental vs Emergency  

Workers who may be exposed to a spillage at their facility should first understand the differences between emergency and incidental spillages. Incidental spillages are the most common type of spillage facilities encounter. Incidental spillages are not dangerous to workers or those cleaning them up. These accidental spillages are usually small amounts of low-hazard chemicals and do not pose a risk to the workplace. 

There is no requirement for workers to have any specific level of training to clean up small, non-emergency spillages. Workers only need to be able recognise hazards and follow the instructions provided by the facility to safely complete the task. Incidental spillage response can be part a facility’s standard operating procedure. Training can also be added to hazard communication training. 

Emergency spillage is a situation that results in unintentional exposure to toxic chemicals, which requires workers to leave the area. The training required to ensure emergency responders are safe, include specific certifications that must be renewed annually.  

There is no universal way to determine if a spillage is an emergency or incidental. The facility must make the distinction based on training and other factors.  There are many variables to consider, such as the type and location of the spillage. 


Hazard Potential 

Any spillage can prove to be dangerous. A slip-and fall hazard can be caused by water from a wet umbrella dripping onto a polished floor. It is important to clean up any spilled water as soon as possible to avoid injury. However, it would not normally be considered an emergency spillage and would not require the assistance of our hazmat team. 

However, consider a few drops of mercury that fall into a corner in a laboratory. The volume of mercury that is sprayed is roughly the same as the amount of water from an umbrella. No one will slip on it because it isn’t on a path. But this situation is very different, because mercury vapor can be toxic. Mercury vapor can pose significant health risks to people in the area and those cleaning it up. It is best to leave this spillage to a trained response team. 



When workers encounter spillages, they need to be aware of the properties of liquids stored at work and those used. This is especially important for workers who deal with dangerous liquids every day. If you are constantly working with liquids, it can be easy for people to forget about the hazards. Sometimes it can be easy to believe that liquids are safe to be handled in one place or process. 

It is important to consider the location of any spillage. Unintentional solvent spillage of 20 litres from a parts washer in an open area is likely to cause disruptions in production and disrupt workers’ work schedules. However, it may still be considered incidental, provided it does not pose an immediate danger to worker safety, and it doesn’t enter an unprotected floor drain. This could potentially cause environmental pollution if it isn’t contained. 

 If flammable vapor build-up in the basement or in a small space, a 20-litre sized spillage of the same solvent could quickly become an emergency. The liquid and volume of the spillage are identical in both scenarios, but the situation is different. 

Even highly trained workers working in a facility’s hazardous materials team will take the time to consider all the facts before they rush to clean up any spillages. 



Life safety is the top priority in spill response, whether it’s an emergency or incident. It is difficult for workers to decide if a spillage is accidental or an emergency. This causes delays in response. It is important that the decision-making process be simple and clear. 

Workers will be able to make incidental response a part of their daily lives by increasing their knowledge about chemical hazards and giving clear instructions on how to clean up spillages. Spills can be managed efficiently and safely when this knowledge is balanced by the understanding that emergency responders can be called at any time to assist workers if necessary. 


Call the Professionals  

We have many capabilities, from high pressure washer cleaning services to partnerships in highly sensitive environments. Our years of experience and proven success in large-scale clean ups across a range of industries, including construction, waste management, and property, have earned us a lot of trust and respect. Cleansweep WA offer hazmat service and other services. 

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