Spill containment and absorbents

Trends in ... spills and absorbents

‘Constantly evaluate the liquid hazards at your facility’

Making sure your facility is prepared for a spill goes beyond having a kit onsite.

“While it’s important to understand the total spill risk that might occur in a facility, employers and workers should make sure that they have several sorbents on hand to tackle what they are likely to encounter from any single accident instead of what a formula tells them they need based on the worst-case scenario,” say Kyle Glaser, associate product manager – absorbent, and Bobby Ennis, senior global product manager – absorbents, for Brady.

What else should employers know about being prepared for a spill? Glaser, Ennis and other experts in the industry shared their thoughts with Safety+Health.

A better understanding

As with all hazards, spill risk is something safety pros need to evaluate and reevaluate time and again.

“You need to constantly evaluate the liquid hazards at your facility and your clean-up procedures to be sure there isn’t a better tool or procedure you should be using,” said Chris Iuzzolino, director or product operations for New Pig Corp. “Absorbents have been developed that are selective to the type of liquid you are trying to absorb, such as oils, water, fuels, or acids and bases.”

Glaser and Ennis added: “It’s more important for an employer to keep moderate amounts of sorbents throughout their facility for faster response rather than stockpiling a bulk supply in a single location for a hypothetical spill they are unlikely to ever see.”

Then, when it comes to absorbent selection and building a spill response plan, “Make sure you think about your replenishment strategy,” Iuzzolino said. “Too many people check the box of having something on hand to clean up a spill but haven’t thought about how to replace what was used once the spill has been cleaned up.”


Changes in spill response have been made by both spill-industry manufacturers and end-use employers, the experts noted.

On the manufacturing side, products have been introduced that address space concerns such as, “I don’t have room on my trucks for bulky spill kits or containment products,” said Patrick McAtarian, general manager at Andax Industries.

Iuzzolino echoed that thought: “For years, the standard in containment products was rigid, steel and plastic containment devices. While these containment devices helped users meet regulatory requirements, they provided very little flexibility with regard to storage space limitations, portability or the need to satisfy temporary storage requirements. Recently, more flexible, soft-sided containment devices that have folding sidewalls or walls that compress to allow easy access to the containment have been developed.”

On the employer side, Glaser and Ennis told S+H that the COVID-19 pandemic has led many facilities to shift “from a central repository of sorbents to smaller or single-use spill kits that can be kept in more places across the production process, which avoids congregation at a single supply station.”

“Keep in mind that containment devices do not just have to be used to help meet regulatory requirements,” Iuzzolino said. “They can also be used as a part of your good housekeeping program, in helping to prevent accidental slips and falls from liquids that can find their way to your floors, or to help maintain a more orderly work environment.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month:

  • Eyewashes and showers
  • Materials handling

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