How to select a spill kit.
Different workplaces require different spill kits to be selected and prepared to deal effectively with a spill. This could potentially mean having more than one type of spill kit and the necessity of this should be determined during the risk assessment process.
When choosing a spill kit, consider its size and capacity, and the materials the components are made from.
Size and capacity
Spill kits come in different sizes, ranging from compact 25L bags to large 240L bins.
The size of the kit is not the same as its absorption capacity. The spill kit must be able to absorb the maximum likely spill, rather than the total amount of liquid stored. The absorbency rate of a chemical may vary based on its viscosity or ‘thickness’, with less viscous chemicals requiring more materials to absorb them.
As spill kit absorbency rates are often based on maximum absorbency of very viscous liquids, it may be necessary to halve a spill kit’s capacity when preparing for the containment of a less viscous liquid, such as diesel.
While manufacturers produce general spill kits, the absorbent items may be altered to suit different spill types.
Generally there are two types of absorbents: those that absorb all liquids, including degreasers, coolants, acids, hydrocarbons and water, and those that only absorb hydrocarbons.
After determining the type of chemicals that might be spilled, the appropriate spill kit(s) can be selected.
Three types of colour-coded spill kits exist, containing different types of absorbent materials
General purpose spill kits (grey) are suitable for all spills, including oils, with the exception of aggressive acids and alkalis. These spill kits are best for indoor use.
Oil & fuel only spill kits (white) are suitable for recovering oils and fuels in and around water, as they repel the water rather than absorbing it.
In the case of a spill on soil, as opposed to hardstands or concrete surfaces, choose a kit which also includes bioactive ground and floor absorbents.These spill kits are best for outdoor use.
Hazchem spill kits (yellow) are suitable for recovering acids, alkalis, coolants, paints, oils and fuels.
They are made from inert material that will not react with the absorbed chemical. These spill kits are best for unknown, corrosive or aggressive hazchem spills, both indoors and outdoors.