The greatest safety plans are the ones that are constantly evaluated and updated based on their effectiveness. There may be no greater illustration of this than the handling of hazardous chemicals. Day-to-day tasks may be easy to plan and train for--all of your employees have HAZWOPER training and they're kept safe using engineering controls and PPE.
What about spills? What is your plan when the drums start leaking or the forklift driver pierces a tote? A bulk delivery driver is delivering a tanker full of hazardous materials to your site storage tanks, now the trailer is leaking, what can you do?
Employees trained in the HAZWOPER training standard can respond to a spill and dramatically reduce the impact of the hazard. By comparison, your on-site team can respond faster to hazmat problems within your facility than a fire department of off-site hazmat response team. The quicker the response to the chemical spill, the more likely you'll protect employees and limit damage or contamination to the workplace.
Do you have a spill kit?
You have a plan, you have training, you have PPE, and you have the tools to confine or contain the spill. When was the last time you inspected your hazmat response equipment? Spill kits stored outdoors are subjected to extreme cold, heat, and UV damage when stored in the sun. What was once a functional response kit can very quickly become dry-rotting absorbent pads, frozen emergency response guidebooks, and chemical gloves that can be penetrated by the chemicals they were designed to protect you from.
There is no governing regulation regarding inspection frequency but some regular inspection process should be developed for your site and equipment. There is no universal expiration date for hazmat response equipment and each piece of equipment is different. At all times manufacturer guidelines should be followed.
While breakdown from exposure to the environment can be problematic, your spill kit may be opened and used by employees to clean up ordinary leaks and drips. An empty kit or missing and damaged equipment is useless when there is a spill. Inspections are a great opportunity for response team familiarization and to ensure your facility is ready to respond to a chemical emergency.