Safety at Work

What Are The Dangers Of Chemical Spills?

'What are the dangers of chemical spills?' You may ask that question whenever you are trying to identify hazards associated with hazardous chemical spills.

With many hazardous chemicals presence in plant site, chemical spill hazards are much more likely to happen. Spills of acids, bases, highly flammable liquids, toxic chemicals, reactive substances, oxidizing agents and other hazardous chemicals can present real hazards to workers and environment.

Chemical spills can occur at production site, from a storage tank, warehouse area where chemicals are stored, during transportation, at the laboratory or during transferring operation. It means that chemical spills hazards have to be identified at these workplaces and activities.

The danger level of chemical spills depend on several factors, which include but are not limited to nature of spilled substances/chemicals (hazardous or not), spill volume, work area (well-ventilated area or not), spill location and conditions (pressure and temperature) of the spilled chemicals.

When chemical spills happen, the following dangers/hazards may expose to workers, facilities and the environment.

  • Fire and or explosion. Highly flammable liquid will generate flammable vapor that will be readily ignited by any ignition sources around the spill area.
  • Toxic atmosphere that comes from toxic chemical spills. This phenomenon is similar with toxic gas leak. Toxic chemical spills accidents are able to kill many lives in a short time. Do you remember Bhopal tragedy?
  • Get burn by corrosive liquid.
  • Workers are exposed to hot chemicals and or pressurized ones.
  • Uncontrolled reaction, if the spilled chemical contacts with incompatible material. In some cases, the reaction could generate other toxic chemicals or gases.
  • Environment contamination: soil, water or air.
You may ask yourself "Are the dangers only these six points?" Of course they do not represent the whole dangers of chemical spills. As I have mentioned above that level of dangers depend on many factors. And one of the main factors is the nature of chemicals.

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Alexandr Grigorev

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