Tag Archives: spill kits

Why spill kit contents are your friends in a crisis

Spill kit contents can vary depending on the type and nature of the spill kit. This article takes a look at the typical spill kit contents that you will find and spends some time considering what these products are and what they actually do in order to help you with spill containment when something goes wrong.

Back in the 90’s an insurance company ran an advertising campaign in which its selling point was ‘we won’t make a drama out of a crisis’.

More than two decades later, the objective of dedicated spill kits is just the same: to prevent unplanned and unwanted incidents from becoming worse than they already are. Their effectiveness relies on a combination of simple science on their part and forward planning on ours and yours. By expecting the worst – remember Murphy’s Law: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong – you are able to plan for the best outcome when it does.

Crucial to the effectiveness of spill kit contents are three key factors: Anticipation, Prevention, and Cure. Let’s look at all three in turn.

Anticipation: Think about spill containment

If your workplace contains anything that will spill, the best response is to think ahead, and have the right equipment, on the right scale, in instant readiness. A key component of having the right equipment in place is to have a spill kit.

You should consider your particular risks and prepare some form of spill kit contents checklist to ensure that you have all products that you require in anticipation of any particular issue. Typical spill kit contents include spill absorbents aimed at ‘soaking up’ any escaping liquids; this would include absorbent pads and absorbent socks. We explain a little more on how absorbent products work later.

For lorry drivers, if they are carrying ‘spillable’ materials then they should certainly think about an ADR Spill Kit in order to comply with the Regulations. This should include items such as PPE, drain covers and a warning triangle.

Preventing a spill

Preventing a spill in the first place is about good working practices. But think of Murphy’s Law. What if a spill happens, what do you need to prevent its spread?

As mentioned above, spill absorbents are typical spill kit contents. Spill Control Centre offers absorbents in a number of forms that feed into the prevention process and will allow you to start the clean-up process immediately to try and help you in preventing its spread.

These products may be spill pads and spill socks to suit the job, and are available in different sizes to match the size of the spill. Colour coding helps with easy identification in an emergency – for example, oil absorbents are white; water absorbents are black or grey, and chemical absorbents are yellow.

Spill pads are best for absorbing small spills or wiping surfaces; spill rolls reduce waste by allowing you to tear off only what’s needed; spill socks are perfect to bund spills or surround leaking machinery. All of these work in the same way by actively targeting and absorbing the offending spill; they are simply different shapes and sizes for use in different scenarios.

Spill Kit Contents

Cure: Cleaning up a spill

Absorbent granules can be added to a spill kit and can be very effective for any clean-up work after a spill. They should conform to BS476 Part 7, which means they’re chemically inert and fire retardant. The science behind them all is much the same, and is based on organic chemistry. That’s what allows these products to soak up liquids and convert them into solids that can be shovelled or swept up for appropriate disposal.

Many absorbent granules are based on cellulose – a complex combination of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and in one form or another the most common organic material on Earth. It’s a kind of sugar, and readily absorbs all kinds of liquid. Think cat litter, for instance.

However, not all absorbents are the same when it comes to side issues that ought to be considered. Some, for instance, are crush-resistant, which is important if they’re to be used in yards with a lot of vehicle movement. Others are non-slip, so useful for areas where people have to walk about. Furthermore, others may be approved for use by the MoD; others may conform to European Safety Standards.

Always remember, whichever part of the spill kit you use it is essential to properly dispose of the used products in a thoughtful and environmentally friendly way; whether it be used absorbent granules, socks or pads, the comment applies equally to all.

And finally…

Think insurance. How much more sympathetic might an insurance company be if a company is able to show that it took reasonable care to guard against and prepare for a spill if one should happen, rather than to be blasé about it and make no preparations at all. Spill Control Centre’s spill kits is a great place to start looking for the products that are just right for your business.

Our guide to absorbents and why you need them

Having the right tool to hand removes potential difficulties in any job, making it simpler and more straightforward. But which tool for which task? I’ve written this guide to absorbents and their uses to help you make sure you have the right kind at hand when you’re faced with the clear and present danger of your own spill.

Whatever my neighbour was doing, it wasn’t going well. Crouched on his haunches peering at the hinge on his car door, I could hear only muttered curses, and couldn’t resist going over to find out what was happening.

He held up bloodied knuckles. “Look at that,” he said. “All because the people who built this car couldn’t use a conventional screw that I could tighten with a screwdriver.”

He’d been using pliers to tighten a screw holding part of his car door in position, but the screw head wasn’t of a conventional kind. It required a particular kind of screwdriver that he didn’t have, and was unlikely to need for any other application. “Over-engineered,” he said as he sucked his obviously-painful bleeding knuckles. “I’ve got all sorts of screwdrivers and spanners, but nothing to fit that.”

That need to pick a specific tool for a specific job led me to consider how customers needing spill control absorbents could pick the ones they needed. All the relevant information is on the Spill Control Centre web site, but because we’ve been thorough in presenting it, there’s a lot to get through. That’s why I’ve created this ‘pick me quick’ guide to which absorbent is right for which application. Every section contains a link to take you directly to the right part of the web site, where more detail can be found. And every situation involving chemicals or fuel needs to be considered in the context of potential consequences.

Just look at our picture – an uncontrolled spill, with associated environmental damage, just waiting to happen. I’d suggest that the dark stain on the jetty is evidence of a spill having already happened. How much of it went between the planks into the water?

Spill Control

Picking the right spill response

Containment: This should be your first priority, minimising collateral damage caused by spilled materials getting into watercourses, drains, and onto open ground. Drain covers are instantly deployable, and will protect the drains. To prevent the spread of spilled liquids larger tanks and vehicles are best protected by permanent use of temporary bunds or berms, but where these are permanent, they’ll need to be cleaned out regularly, especially in the autumn when they can fill with debris like blown leaves.

In emergency situations, portable bunds can quickly be deployed for the most effective containment. They’re available in a variety of sizes up to the Stinger snap-up berm, capable of holding more than 12,000 litres. We also have a mechanical drain cover, which is re-usable and ideal for protecting drains during routine operations like tanker deliveries, for example.

Oil: Prevention is always better than cure, so oil drum storage utilising containers with built-in capacity to catch spills is always a good idea. Bunds and berms may be appropriate, but for smaller spills and leaks the plant nappy is a most effective solution. Heavy plant can be driven onto it, and the sides will spring back into place; spilled fuel or oil will soak in, but water can escape, so there’s no danger of spilled material escaping into the environment.

Chemicals: Spills of hazardous and aggressive chemicals require instant response so we offer a range of chemical spill kits small enough to be comfortably stowed in van and lorry cabs and on fork-lift trucks. A range of sizes and refills is available, many containing more than just the spill control equipment, but equipment to protect the user too, like gloves and masks.

Water: We offer water spill kits, but that’s perhaps a misnomer, because these products are equally at home soaking up most fluid types. They can absorb oil and water simultaneously, in quantities of up to 900 litres.

Small localised spills: As for drips. Look for absorbent granules to spread over the surface of the spill and draw in what’s been spilled. Sweep up carefully and dispose of responsibly. Cellulose granules are ideal; fire retardant and effective, they’re made from wood from sustainable sources. Several sizes of bag are available.

Drips: As for small localised spills (above). In the short term, cellulose granules will do the job, but if you have a range of liquids that could spill, you might be better advised to pick Spill-Aid power absorber. It’s more absorbent than clay-based solutions, and considerably more absorbent. On factory yards clay granules are effective, since they are chemically inert, won’t turn into mush when they’ve done the job and can safely be walked on and driven over. Look for construction clay and industrial clay varieties. If you’re able to easily get to the source of the leak, a tub of leak sealing putty is extremely effective for a short-term repair.

Body fluids: Always a tricky one this, with an enhanced need to protect the person doing the clean-up role. That safeguard is included with our body fluid spill kits that are small enough to be carried, but large enough to cope with most situations, meaning they can be quickly deployed in large locations like shopping malls, sports stadia, and leisure centres, for example.

On the move: Carrying the spill containment product on the vehicle carrying the product that may be spilled needs an ADR spill kit. Our most comprehensive kit contains containment and clean-up equipment, and protection for the operator, as well as a warning triangle to let other road users that there’s a hazard ahead.

Picture: Kampee Patisena | Dreamstime

Why spill kits are the most effective spillage clean up options

Grandma knew best once, but there are more effective spillage kit options these days…..

Spill kit products from the Spill Control Centre absorb the pressure as well as the spill, because we’ve created the best options in spill kits for every eventuality. We’ve thought of everything to make sure you can take fast and decisive action whenever there’s a spill of any kind.

When we were children Grandma always knew best about how to deal with spills. A lifetime’s learning had given her a wealth of knowledge equal to the task of dealing with all manner of spills, which she was able to sort in next to no time. Tomato sauce on a white shirt, blood on her best towels, beetroot on the tablecloth and the oil on Grandad’s overalls were no match for her.

There were no formal spill kits in those days, and although I never understood how a swift clip round the ear helped with the effectiveness of her clean-up regime, she was always prepared for anything.

Her spillage kit was what was in the house, and her allies were preparedness and speed. Times have changed. The best way to deal with stains no longer involves the milk, lemon juice and bicarb of soda she used to use, but swift action is still key.

Pick the kit to fit the spillSpill Kit

Our lives contain many more chemicals that were around in Grandma’s day. That’s why our industry has produced a range of spill kits specifically designed for particular hazards.

Oil spill kits, for example, can be used only to contain and clean up oil, and the same is true of body fluid spill kits. Chemical spill kits, on the other hand, are more flexible, and can be safely deployed on any industrial liquids, including aggressive chemicals and oil.

To add another level of readiness, vehicle spills kits are produced in handy sizes so they can be carried in vans and on fork lift trucks, for example; immediately to hand when something gets spilled.

Out on the road it’s a good idea to give serious consideration to ADR spill kits. These not only make you ready to contain and clean up spills, but also to do it in complete safety, since they include protective gloves, masks, goggles and other accessories to keep the user safe whilst they’re completing the clean-up.

How spill kits work

The technology which makes the absorbent material in spill kits soak up liquids is something we’re all familiar with, even if we’re not aware of it. Take a simple kitchen spill, for example. If we’re at home, we’ll probably react to it by reaching for some kitchen roll; at work we’ll probably go for some of the blue paper roll that lives in every cleaners cupboard. The result is the same in every case; we’re harnessing the power of organic chemistry, in just the same way as your cat and NASA astronauts do. We produced a blog article to explain why; read it here.

Size matters in spillage kits

And that’s another piece of advice we’d offer in selecting the right choice from our range of spillage kits – be aware of the different amounts of liquid they can cope with.

Spill kits for blood, for example, clearly need less ‘capacity’ than a diesel spill kit, because, without being too indelicate, less fluid is going to be involved.

The principle is the same with any kit. It contains the right type of absorbent material to deal with whatever’s been spilled, and a means of containing the used product for safe disposal in a controlled way.

Add to that the availability of refills in a variety of shapes and sizes, and you’ve no excuse not to be as ready as Grandma ever was when something gets spilled.

Click to view our full range of spill kits.

Slips, trips and falls – How common sense and planning can keep everyone from injury

Every employer has a legal obligation to protect people from the hazards involved in their business, both as employees and people who might be affected by what they do – and yet slips, trips and falls are still the most common form of workplace injury in the UK.

Those obligations are defined in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – but implementing controls is often down to a dose of common sense and applying a little thought over things you might otherwise take for granted because you’re so familiar with your surroundings, and things have changed imperceptibly over the years.

Spill KitBut it’s important to remember that no-one running a business can ever hope to be everywhere all the time, which is why training all employees to be ‘anti-slip-and-trip ambassadors’, with a responsibility for eliminating hazards as soon as they occur, is part of having a safe workplace. Naturally there are things you have a responsibility for, like curling carpets, worn stairs, or dripping condensation pooling on smooth floors – but employees are the people who might sweep waste from workbench to floor, and leave it there; who might overfill containers, whose contents could then spill out unchecked and unmopped, and who might leave cables trailing over the floor.

Walk through your workplace, advises the Health and Safety Executive, not as a person going about their daily business, but as someone looking for every possible slipping and tripping hazard. You might raise employee awareness by asking them to do the job, and offering a small prize for the best list. The HSE even offers a checklist and suggests remedies. The list you produce as a result might show more hazards than you anticipated. It’s suggested that you look for the following:

• a build-up of slippery leaves, wet grass or moss outside the premises
• paths that are prone to ice build-up in the winter
• hard-to-see changes in levels
• potholes or lose paving
• fire escapes that are slippery when wet
• indoor tiles being wet when people come in on rainy days
• curling mats or loose floor tiles
• smooth floors where contamination occurs
• worn grip tape
• trailing cables
• poor lighting
• worn staircases
• floors becoming contaminated and slippery
• people being careless with materials
• overfilled containers
• workbench waste being swept onto the floor
• leaks from machines
• condensation
• ice build-up in cold stores
• blocked walkways
• leaky taps
• slow clean-up response after spills
• over-polishing of floors making them slippery

All of these can be remedied; some by investment and others by good housekeeping and employee training. In removing the hazards, be careful not to replace them with others, counsels the HSE advice. It cites as an example wet mopping of spills, which can replace one contaminant with another without removing the hazard. Better, they say, to use appropriate absorbents and to leave the floor dry.

Other things to consider are:
• providing the right footwear
• having dedicated entrance mats which can be replaced and cleaned
• applying anti-slip floor paints
• replacing leaky taps and valves
• keeping walkways clean and level
• adding extra lighting
• providing the right spill kits for employee use
• and training employees to use them

Taking the right slip-free steps will mean everyone can go home as fit and well as when they arrived, allowing your business another profitable and headache-free day.

Mineral Oil Spill blamed for bird contamination

Hundreds of seabirds washed up in an oil spill on the south coast from Sussex to Cornwall on Thursday 31st January were contaminated with a waxy substance that is now believed to be a mixture of refined mineral oils, most probably jettisoned from a ship passing through the Western approaches to the English Channel.
A major rescue operation has been launched by the RSPCA and other local charities to capture and clean the affected birds. Inevitably it is highly likely that many more birds have perished out to sea than have been rescued and even then it has proved such a major task to remove the contamination that not all the birds rescued will survive.


Preventing environmental pollution both on land and sea is now given top priority and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have sent a counter pollution surveillance aircraft to investigate the sea areas between Dover and the Isles of Scilly looking for the source. Shipping schedules and cargo records are also being scoured to try and pinpoint the culprit.
The fact that the captain of the vessel did not report the spill suggests it was not accidental and more likely to do with saving money. Let’s hope the authorities can track the ship down and prosecute the offender at least as a deterrent to others. Sadly as far as the Guillemots are concerned the damage is already done and worse still right at the start of the breeding season.
The incident, and the expensive resources put behind locating the source should act as a reminder to all those involved in the transport, storage and use of oils, fuels and other hazardous materials. It is a legal obligation to ensure appropriate spill control and containment measures such as absorbent products, bunds and spill kits are in place should a spill occur.

The Environment Agency is ever more vigilant and can force the perpetrator to foot the bill for environmental pollution caused by careless or irresponsible actions.

Conducting a spill risk assessment to help formulate a coherent spill control management system is the only sensible approach and will protect the viability of the business as well as the environment.