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Nailing Spill Planning and Training Requirements
Written emergency response plans identify the spill-prone areas in your facility and outline the course of action that will be taken in each area to mitigate a spill safely and effectively. The details for each area may vary based on the volume or nature of the chemicals stored. Response to a 30 mil. laboratory spill will be much different than response to a break in the main feed line supplying a flammable material to a processing area.
Documenting possible scenarios and detailing the steps for effective response is a key to thorough planning, because it helps identify what resources are necessary. The time to find out you need a backhoe to create an earthen dam is not when the bottom fill valve of a tanker truck fails during offloading a bulk shipment.
Plans should also detail employee responsibilities. Rather than writing particular names into the plan, it may be better to categorize employees – “office staff,” “press operators,” etc. – so that you can facilitate training by employee type and not have to alter your plan every time someone changes positions or leaves your company.
Levels of Training
With plans in place, facility safety coordinators can determine the levels of training needed. It may not be practical or necessary to train everyone to a technician or specialist level.
Before planning levels of training, consider the option to train all employees to evacuate the facility in the event of a spill and use outside resources for response and cleanup. A choice for this option must be well documented and should identify the outside resources, with contact information, including phone numbers. It is also a good idea to have a letter or other documentation from the outside resource(s) stating their commitment and detailing their services.
When employees will handle emergency situations, it is a good idea to train employees depending on the extent to which the employee will be involved with the response operation. Here is an example of the hierarchy of response and training:
First responder awareness – This should be a “baseline” training appropriate for anyone likely to encounter a hazardous materials spill at your facility. These employees need to know the dangers of chemicals stored at the facility, as well as who to contact so that those who have received more in-depth training can initiate the proper response.
First responder operations – In addition to recognizing a spill and notifying others, employees trained to operations level can initiate basic spill control, containment or confinement measures, but will not actually be involved with stopping the flow of a release or with spill cleanup measures. These employees can also implement decontamination procedures.
Hazardous materials technicians should have the skills of both awareness and operations level employees. They should also be trained to safely respond to spill situations by stopping the flow of a spill and actually cleaning up any spilled materials. These employees receive a more in-depth training on chemical safety and selection of personal protective equipment, and are trained on how to function within the incident command system.
Hazardous materials specialists are employees who have specialized knowledge on certain hazardous materials. They can support response technicians and act as a liaison with governing agencies. Awareness of local and state emergency response plans is also an essential part of their training.
On-scene incident commanders can be trained to “assume control of the incident scene.” They must be able to implement the emergency response plan and understand the risks involved with the chemicals spilled.
It’s unlikely that a front office receptionist will need to leave his or her post to respond to a holding tank spill in the storage yard. However, that person may be part of the response plan if he or she has such duties as making an announcement for others to evacuate or securing the perimeter of the facility by closing gates. Thorough plans help everyone know what is expected in an emergency, and training helps ensure that plans will run smoothly when and if they are ever needed.