Skip to Content

Spill Response


Spills are likely whenever chemicals are used. Personnel should be trained and equipped to handle most of the spills in their work area. Contact EHSRM for assistance or advice about a chemical spill.
Spills that endanger the community or environment must be reported to the San Marcos Fire Department who has a hazardous waste response capability – (HAZMAT Team).


Spill Prevention and Planning

Prevention is the best safety strategy for any environment.  Use safe handling procedures and be aware of the potential hazards associated with chemicals.  For example, before working with any chemicals, review the appropriate MSDSs.
Be prepared to respond to a chemical spill.  To prepare for a potential spill, follow these guidelines:

  • Develop and periodically review written procedures for an emergency response plan.
  • Keep a fully stocked chemical spill response kit available.
  • Know the location and proper use of cleanup materials.
  • Know how to turn off equipment, heat sources, electrical panels, etc.
  • Review appropriate MSDSs.


Spill Response Kit

Work areas that contain potentially hazardous chemicals should have a chemical spill response kit. This kit should include the following:

  • Disposable laboratory/surgical gloves
  • Disposable vinyl gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Absorbent (e.g., spill pillows, vermiculite, litter box filler, etc.)
  • Plastic scoop
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Hazardous waste tags to identify cleanup debris for disposal


Responding to Chemical Spills

The following sequence provides a brief overview of proper chemical response procedures:

  • Notify others in the immediate area that a spill has occurred. Evacuate the area if necessary.
  • Attend to injured and exposed people.
  • Identify the spilled chemical(s).
  • Based on the hazards and the personal protective equipment needed (e.g., respiratory protection), determine if you can safely clean the spill or if assistance is necessary. (Most spills can be cleaned safely by the people who were using the chemical, assuming they are knowledgeable about the chemical.)

If you determine that you can safely clean the spill without emergency assistance, follow these guidelines:

  • Wear appropriate protective clothing and equipment.
  • Have another person stand by during the cleanup.
  • Clean up the spill and collect all wastes for proper disposal.
  • Ventilate the area, as necessary, before it is reoccupied.
  • Decontaminate reusable cleanup supplies such as scoops, rubber boots, etc.
  • Restock the chemical spill kit and return it to the normal storage location.

Do not take unnecessary risks with chemical spills. Call UPD (primary responder) by dialing 911 whenever a spill involves the following:

  • Large volume of spilled material
  • Very hazardous material
  • Very hazardous conditions (e.g., fire, explosion, toxicity, etc.)
  • Strong odor
  • Personnel injury or exposure

For additional emergency response procedures, review the Texas State University Contingency Plan and Emergency Response Procedures.


June 2011
Revised November 2014