The situation that we were faced with at that moment was very grave, and if not properly handled can cause an explosion that can bring down the whole plant and even lead to loss of life. I will therefore divide my team in different groups in order to minimize time loss. As some of us relay the information to the other departments including the fire fighter people, others headed by the Production department chief engineer, will be trying to evacuate the people in the stores and the production area.
Another group that include gas experts from the laboratory department will be trying to dig up the information on how to handle such a crisis either from their brains or books (Materials Safety Data Sheet-MSDS or the container labels). They will have to try to identify the spill, limiting their research on a strong acid or base, an oxidizer or a highly flammable substance. All the individuals involved in the rescue team have to put on the relevant protective clothing, and at that time anyone who is not in the rescue personnel will be barred from accessing the area.
The following steps should therefore be taken to help salvage the situation.
· Switch off all ignition and machine that produces heat.
· Evacuate all the non-essential staff.
· Try to identify the source of the spill.
· Estimate the amount of the material that is likely to be released (check the container capacity).
· Check out the information of the substance provided on either the label or from the MSDS.
· Contact the Environmental and Health Department (EH&S).
· Identify the relevant personal equipment needed to handle the material. These include; neutralizing agents, absorbents, plastic scoops, protective clothing and disposable mops among others.
· Start off with the process of dealing with clearing the mess if you can. If you can not, then wait for the EH&S to come.
To avoid the repeat of such ugly scenarios, we are therefore required to take preventive measures. The relevant authorities should ensure their companies abide by the safety regulations provided by the EH&S. This will go along way to eliminate possible dangerous situations from occurring. Some of these measures include:
· All chemicals are to be stored according to the manufactures directives.
· Store incompatible substances separately. That is, do not store chemicals that can react with one another in the same place.
· Ensure that all the employees who are charged with the responsibility of handling chemicals are properly trained.
· Formulate a procedure of dealing with emergency leaks and make all the staff aware of it.
· Maintain gauges, Pipe works, valves and levels within safe levels.