Proactive spill management
Spill Management is often something people think of after they have an incident onsite. This can be a costly mistake, both financially, and also the cost to a company’s reputation. Even a small spill can potentially have considerable effects on human health, as well as environmental impacts. However, with some planning and preparation, an incident can easily be avoided.
People often think of spill management along the lines of dealing with a spill once it has happened. However, in reality spill management is essentially a risk management process. Any site that stores, uses or transports liquids have inherent risks from the potential spillage of these liquids, and the spill management process is there to eliminate or mitigate these risks.
There are also specific pieces of legislation that detail what are a company’s responsibilities in regard to spill management from a human health perspective, as well as the environment.
These are the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 that basically states that where there is a risk from a spill or leak of a hazardous chemical, the company must ensure there is a “spill containment system” that contains the liquid spillage.
And from an environmental perspective the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, basically states if a person wilfully or negligently causes any substance to leak, spill or otherwise escape in a manner that harms or is likely to harm the environment, they will be guilty of an offence, and can be fined and prosecuted. And ignorance is not a defence in either case, so it pays to ensure you consider spill management before you have an incident.
So where does a company start, when they decide to look at their current spill management practices within their company.
The best place to start is an audit or your sites(s) and operations.
This can be done internally, of you can engage the services of a spill management company to conduct the audit. An audit will consider things such as:
• What liquids do you store onsite, and if spilt can they escape offsite through a drainage system
• What receptors are close to your site, such as creeks
• Do you currently have a spill management plan
• Do you currently have spill response equipment onsite, and if so, is it stocked adequately
• Have your employees received any training in spill management
• How are your liquids stored, is there any bunding of containment devices onsite
An audit will highlight areas where there are risks to human health and the environment, and can identify what steps should be taken to eliminate or mitigate these risks. Implementing these changes is neither complicated, nor generally expensive, and could be as simple as committing to a spill skit servicing program from your supplier.
Often spill management is not given enough consideration when a company conducts its business. However, with legislation detailing a company’s responsibilities in regard to human health and the environment in regard to spills, and prosecution and large fines awaiting people who do not take these responsibilities seriously enough, it pays to act before it is too late.