Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety Chemical Spill Clean-Up and Reporting

Chemical Spill Clean-Up By Employees

Employees can clean-up small chemical spills ONLY when all of the following conditions are met:

  • The spill can be cleaned-up in five to ten minutes.
  • The spill is located in the area where you work.
  • The spilled chemical is one you are trained to work with.
  • You have the proper PPE to perform cleanup (proper PPE should be listed on your hazard assessment).
  • Appropriate clean-up supplies are readily accessible (spill kit).

It is also important that employees do not attempt to clean up a chemical with a Ceiling Limit listed in WAC 296-841 or one that can create an Immediate Danger to Life and Health (IDLH) atmosphere.  IDLH information can be found in the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards.

When to Call EH&S

Always contact EH&S for help with spill cleanup if:

  • The spill is too large or not in your work area.
  • The spill is unfamiliar or unknown chemical.
  • You do not have adequate PPE or a complete cleanup kit.
  • You aren’t trained to handle the chemical.
  • You are uncomfortable performing the cleanup.

Call EHS at 335-3041 if you need assistance. Call 335-9000 after normal business hours.

When to Call 911

If someone is injured, there is a risk of fire or explosion, and/or the spill is not contained, then immediately evacuate all personnel from the area and call 911. Qualified emergency response personnel will respond to attend to the injured and clean-up the spill.

Recommended Spill Clean-Up Kit

Spill kits are provided by EH&S. Always maintain a complete kit with the following items:

  • Five gallon bucket with ratchet-top lid
  • Three small absorbent pads
  • Brush and dustpan
  • Pair of nitrile gloves
  • Large zip-top freezer bag
  • Dangerous waste label

The five-gallon bucket can be used to store spill clean-up materials and then can used to store contaminated items, such as gloves and absorbent pads, used during the clean-up.  Once the spill is cleaned up the bucket is to be closed and labeled as Dangerous Waste.  Submit an on-line Chemical Collection Request form and EH&S will pick-up the container.

After properly cleaning up the spill, fill out an online Incident Report on the WSU Human Resource Services website. This information is not used to punish or reprimand in any way, but rather to gather information on trends and hazards to allow WSU safety staff to address the most pressing campus safety concerns.

Mercury Spills

Employees cannot clean-up mercury spills. EH&S responds to all mercury releases; call 335-3041 during business hours and 335-9000 after business hours.