Category Archives: Spill Containment

Hazards that can’t be seen call for the most robust containment

Invisible hazards like the Ebola virus require containment solutions of the best standards, as proved when a nurse in America popped out for takeaway and caused an Ebola emergency when she was in quarantine suspected of suffering from the disease.

It’s almost too easy to think of ‘spills’ as relating to industrial and chemical processes where the results are easy to see; where containment and clean-up efforts have a visible result. But a more effective use for them is where the contaminant is an invisible killer. And what better example of that could there be than Ebola’s deadly sweep through the populations of West African countries?

That’s when a significant amount of trust has to be put in the design and manufacturing integrity of the products available to aid workers, and the way they’re used in the ‘danger zone’. The role of spill control products there has had to be 100% reliable so that aid workers could rely on them utterly in the battle to stop the spread of a virus with no known cure.

Of course the role in those circumstances was less about spill cleanup and more about containment, perfectly illustrating the ‘dual role’ of the poly overpack. Taking part in that fight is American manufacturer Enpac, whose products are available in the UK through the Spill Control Centre.

The company’s products were used in America when a doctor working for one of the country’s major television stations is said to have broken quarantine restrictions to go out for takeaway food in Dallas, Texas. She had recently returned from West Africa where she had been in contact with a cameraman infected by the virus.

What is a poly overpack?

‘Overpack’ is a term applied to anything from a cardboard box to a bag carrying two or more boxes or packs of something else. A poly overpack is a robust container made of polyethylene that can be used for containing waste products like sludge, chemicals, acids or even waste parts.

But it would be wrong to think of it simply as an upmarket plastic dustbin. Poly overpacks, or overpack drums, of the kind made by Enpac at Eastlake near Cleveland on the shores of North America’s Lake Erie for the last two decades, are much more robust. They conform to a number of United Nations and American standards – UN 1H2/X295/S, UN 1H2T/Y295/S – as well as US Code of Federal regulation DOT 49 CFR 173.3 (c). Those standards also include tight-fitting lids as appropriate, and allow the products to be called salvage drums, representing the highest-standard of overpack.

How big are poly overpack drums?

Enpac Poly Overpack

How big do you need them to be? We incorporate them into spill kits to hold up to 41 litres of fluid (where their ‘overpacking’ role includes a range of absorbent products to help with more conventional spill cleanup), but they can go up to the huge Poly Overpack 600 version, taller than a man, and capable of holding almost 2,300 litres of material. In the mid-range we offer a 95-litre version equipped with integral wheels to make moving it simple and safe.

The range is sure to include one that’s perfect for your needs.


Picture: Enpac LinkedIn post

Spill pallets: Ready to avert disaster when accidents happen

Cleverly-designed and robustly-made spill pallets (also known as bunded pallets) are ever-watchful spill containment solutions that will keep you on the right side of the law when it comes to guarding against workplace accidents. Spill Control Centre shows what’s available.

Control your spills.

Accidents happen, and mistakes will be made, they say; that’s why pencils have rubbers on the end. But the rubber has the capacity to erase far less than the pencil is able to write, indicating that mistakes tend to be few and far between. And when those mistakes are made, correcting them is easily done – but here’s the key: what’s left behind is far from pristine white paper once again.

And so it is for much more serious mistakes, like spills of liquids such as oil. The harm they do has potentially much more severe consequences than grey smudges on paper, and can take many years to recover.

Oil and other noxious chemicals can leach into watercourses, killing fish and other flora and fauna, and pollute groundwater supplies. And it’s such a shame that ever happens, given the thoroughness of legislation and the ease of putting preventative measures in place.

Spill pallets – sometimes known as bunded pallets – are the drip trays of the safe storage world, carefully created to match storage requirements, and, more importantly, required by legislation.


Why must you have a spill pallet?

Because the law requires it if you store more than 200 litres of oil above ground at an industrial, commercial or institutional site – and that includes factories, shops, office blocks, hotels, schools, churches public buildings and hospitals. The Control of Pollution (oil storage) (England) Regulations 2001 explain the position in England, and there is broadly similar legislation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Not only do the regulations talk about where – and where not – is appropriate for oil drum storage, and by common sense implication, other environmentally-unfriendly liquids, they are also explicit in the way materials are to be stored.

Tanks and drums have to be stored with bunding arrangements capable of holding 110% of the capacity of what’s in them. If more than one drum or tank is stored in the location, then the capacity of the bund has to be 110% of the largest tank, or 25% of the total.

What oil drum storage regulations mean for you

The Environment Agency produces a very useful guide written in simple language. The guidelines make it plain that spill pallets offer the perfect safe and effective solution. Made in durable and robust plastics they’re available with capacities from 230 litres, suitable for drums and smaller bottles, up to 1,100 litres and beyond in IBC spill pallet form.

Design factors common to spill pallets

  • Durable construction
  • Fully sealed
  • Compliant with legislation
  • Moveable by forklift (though without drums on them)
  • Strong plastic grating as base for drums
  • Weather resistant
  • Oil resistant and easy clean (naturally)
  • SWL of up to 4000kg, depending on type

Outdoor use is also possible thanks to all-weather covers, though some smaller models have hard covers fitted with roller doors to achieve the same objective.

Accidents, even as small as an accidental overfilling of a drum, will happen, and by definition always come as a surprise. Having the right spill containment means that an unpleasant surprise won’t turn into a nasty – and potentially expensive – shock.


View our full spill pallet range.


Plant nappies: the slick solution to spill containment around machinery

A slack attitude to spills can prove expensive, especially for small firms when key employees are put out of action. Use of plant nappies for spill containment is an effective and safe option in any location. The Spill Control Centre highlights their advantages.

Whenever I see the inside of a Formula 1 garage I’m struck by the high standards of cleanliness. Not a speck of dust contaminates the floor in spite of all the fluids involved, and the comings and goings of people required to run a team in the top flight of motorsport.

It always makes me think of the time when I watched a man in a back-street garage spill some paint whilst he was preparing to respray a customer’s car. Rather than clean it up, he put an oil-stained traffic cone near it with a shrug, and said: “It’s not too much. It’ll dry.”

Such a slack attitude was eventually to cost him his business, because he damaged ligaments in his knee when he slipped on a pool of oil he’d spilled. By the time his knee had mended, his customer base had melted away. Perhaps if he’d kept the place clean…

And it’s not as if it’s that difficult to have a clean and orderly workplace. If spills are unavoidable – and I’m no means certain that they are – then you need to have cost-effective and efficient spill containment measures in place. Drips trays are an obvious choice, but their major disadvantage is how to keep them clean. After all, spilled oil is as hard to clean from a drip tray as it is from the floor. So what is a more appropriate solution?

Plant NappiesPlant Nappy

A far better and more easily-managed option is a really cost-effective plant nappy. Coupled with a disposable plant nappy liner, these are not only ruggedly-built and made in the UK, but are easy to deploy inside or out, and, in spite of their low price, come in a range of sizes that can hold up to a massive 18 litres of fluid.

Six of the best reasons to use plant nappies as spill containment trays

  • Cost effective
  • Quick and easy to deploy
  • Easier to keep clean than conventional oil drip trays
  • Can be used on uneven surfaces
  • Will hold up to 18 litres of fluid
  • Protect the environment

Six ways to make spill containment ‘business as usual’

  • Encourage a cleaner workplace through use of bins instead of the floor
  • Discourage over-filling of containers
  • Get employees to report leaks – and act on the reports
  • Devise procedures that mean people don’t have to rush, and have space to work
  • Provide cleaning materials and spill kits, make them visible
  • Introduce a cleaning regime that prevents a build-up of oil and grease

Six potential consequences of spills

  • Risk of injury through slips and trips
  • Can bring damaging litigation if they cause an accident
  • Can threaten business continuity
  • Increased costs through wasted supplies
  • Harmful to productivity
  • Contamination of products

But of course things don’t get spilled only at work; spills in the home are a hazard too, especially to younger children and older members of the family, both of whom can be a little unsteady on their feet. Take a moment to look out for them.

The Health and Safety Executive offers a really helpful guide to the kind of hazards that can be faced at work, in the home, or both, with useful advice about how to avoid problems with all of them.

Five top tips to help you banish spills for ever

Tip 1: Understand costs

Do you really understand the fine detail of the costs in your business? If you do, you’ll know what you paid for that half litre of hydraulic oil that’s just been dropped on the floor, and what the clean-up materials are going to cost to pick it up again. But that’s only part of the story. You’ll need to factor in the time taken to clean it up, which earns you nothing, against the lost revenue from production set aside whilst cleaning goes on. Then there’s the cost of disposal of the clean-up materials, and maybe even landfill tax. And what if someone slips and injures themselves on the spill? That opens up a whole new world of pain on the cost front. Only when you understand all that will you know the real cost of spills, and get maximum motivation to prevent them.

Tip 2: Keep it clean

Spill KitIf your workplace is clean and tidy, spills will become more obvious. If employees are working on floors caked by years of grime, any spill is harder to spot. More than that, you might be accepting a certain degree of spillage as part of the daily routine. Re-read Tip 1, and then imagine that grime is pound coins, which really ought to be in the bank or in your pocket. Does that make you see things differently?

Tip 3: Educate

There’s only so much that you, as owner or manager, can do to stop spills in a ‘hands on’ fashion. You can provide the right spill kit, but after that so much is then down to the way employees go about their tasks. Are their behaviours correct? If not, why not? Identifying what’s being done incorrectly is the first step to having it done in a proper manner.

Tip 4: Monitor

Make checking spill control as natural as looking in the mirror when you’re driving. As you’re walking the job talking to people, keep an eye out for spills, drips and leaks. Draw people’s attention to them, and have them fixed. Make a mental note of what you saw, and who you asked to do something about it. The next time you’re passing the same spot, look for improvement. A production plant manager once told me he’d tasked an employee to fix leaks in the roof that were causing puddles on the floor. He couldn’t see the roof, but knew the work was being done. “Maintenance bills are up, but the puddles have disappeared,” he said.

Tip 5: Get in the groove

Spill prevention and control is a mind-set. It’s a management task, and should be treated as such. It needs to be incorporated into daily routines in just the same way that safety needs to be part of ‘business as usual’. Remember that in industry ‘Health and Safety’ was once simply ‘Safety’, and is now evolving into ‘Safety, Health and Environment’. Effective spill control makes a contribution to all three of those.

How to avoid fuel foul-ups in the garden

The arrival of spring and summer is likely to take many amateur gardeners into the unfamiliar territory of using motorized tools such as strimmers, rotary cultivators, chainsaws, lawnmowers, and hedge clippers.

Owned, hired or borrowed, all of the more ‘heavy duty’ versions are likely to be powered by two- or four-stroke engines, which require particular care in the storing of their fuel – and mixing it as well, in the case of two-strokes.

Storing and transporting fuel in a car, workplace or more importantly at home, present potential hazards, because petrol and other fuels give off vapour which are extremely flammable and must be treated with the utmost care. You may remember the case of the woman who died when decanting petrol from one container to another in her kitchen.

Storing fuel

060514 store fuel chainsawThere are only two types of container in which fuel can be stored: metal containers of up to 10 litres, and plastic ones up to five litres. None should ever be stored inside the home.

Containers must be:

• made for the purpose
• clearly labeled
• restricted to no more than two containers at any premises
• fitted with a screw cap or other secure closure to prevent leaks
• stored in appropriate secure storage to prevent vandalism or arson
• secured in transit to prevent spills and leaks

Decanting fuel

When filling fuel tanks there are some simple safety rules that must be followed:

• no smoking or naked lights
• decant fuel in the open air, rather than in a garage or shed
• use a pouring spout or funnel
• avoid spilling fuel onto clothing (Contaminated clothes should be changed at once)
• under no circumstances use the mouth to attempt to syphon fuel; it can kill if it enters the lungs or stomach. Vapour can cause irritation to eyes, nose and throat, and lead to unconsciousness
• take care to avoid spills
• do not overfill the fuel tank (fuel expands in hot weather, and vapour can build up)
• make sure the fuel filler cap and fuel container cap are both secure before starting to work with the machine
• store the fuel container out of the sun, and out of the way of children, pets and other animals

And finally, stout footwear, gloves and eye protection should always be worn when operating machinery of this nature. Happy gardening!