Oil spills are one of the most common workplace chemical spills. Forklifts, trucks, industrial machines, and lifting equipment all use oil to function. Even though oil has a relatively low toxicity level, it still poses a serious threat to the safety of your employees and workspace.
Taking a proactive approach to oil containment will not only prevent possible spills, but will also equip you with an effective means of containing the oil in the event of a spill.
Keep reading to learn more about oil spill risk and how to protect the environment, your employees, and your facility.
What Are the Environmental Consequences of Oil Spills?
Regardless of their size, oil spills can often leave lasting effects on the environment. Oil spills in water can have particularly disastrous effects, especially on marine life.
Oil spills coat everything they touch, including birds, marine mammals, fish, marshes, wetlands, and wildlife habitats. Oil-covered birds are often used as the universal symbol for the damage caused by oil spills. Just a small amount of oil can be potentially deadly for a bird, making it difficult for them to fly and destroying their natural waterproofing and insulation.
The spill can also have lasting effects on their nesting grounds, potentially causing long-term effects on their entire species. This happens when the oil eventually begins to sink beneath the water’s surface and into the marine environment, killing or contaminating fish, smaller organisms, and the ecosystem at large.
The consequences of any given oil spill are ultimately determined by a variety of factors, including the amount of oil spilled, the type or weight of the oil, the location of the spill, and the timing of breeding cycles and seasonal migrations.
Ultimately, the severity of an oil spill can always be mitigated by putting in place a spill control plan to prevent a spill, as well as ensuring you are prepared with the necessary products to deal with a spill if it occurs.
Why Are Oil Spills Dangerous in the Workplace?
A lot of us assume that only large-scale oil spills can be hazardous, but in reality, even minor spills in the workplace could pose very serious risk to employees.
Oil Spills Increase the Chance of Slip and Fall Accidents
Oil and chemical spills in the workplace dramatically increase the risk of slip-and-fall accidents. Because most work-related injuries are caused by slip and fall accidents, it is crucial that you take the necessary steps to minimize spill risk. Doing so will decrease the likelihood of a potential spill and minimize the intensity the spill if it occurs.
Exposure to Oil Can Be a Health Risk
Prolonged exposure to oil can be detrimental to your health and can seriously affect someone’s ability to smell or taste. Extremely high levels of exposure to oil can also cause headaches, nausea, lightheadedness, poor coordination, increased blood pressure, and difficulty concentrating.
If you touch oil with your skin, you could experience painful reactions like itchiness, redness, pain, blisters, or peeling.
Oil Spills Can Cause Fires
Because oil is extremely flammable, any spark or source of heat could result in a fire. This risk is exacerbated if the oil begins to vaporize.
It’s clear that oil can be very dangerous, but what can companies do to protect their employees and workplace?
Develop an Oil Spill Response Plan to Protect Your Employees and Workplace
Creating and implementing a spill control and containment plan is crucial to preventing an oil or chemical spill in your workplace. It can be difficult to know where to start, but thankfully there are organizations that offer Spill Control and Compliance Assessments to help companies create a fast, effective system for dealing with existing or potential oil spill risks.
Spill Control and Compliance Assessments will help you:
- Comply with increasingly strict safety and environmental regulations and guidelines.
- Provide a safe and eco-friendly work environment.
- Save time and money using industry-leading products.
These assessments will identify potential areas of spill risk, recommend action where applicable, as well as determine the correct products necessary for each area.
Choose the Appropriate Absorbent Equipment for Oil Spill Containment
Ensure that you are fully stocked with all the equipment necessary to handle an oil spill. This could mean the difference between a minor spill or a major accident.
To be fully protected, make sure you have the essentials:
Some companies offer complete spill kits – easy, compact kits that include all of essentials, and then some. Spill kits are a complete solution for emergency spills. These kits can be used for a wide variety of spill applications, from a small leak or drip from a transport trailer, to a large spill at a shipping and receiving facility.
If your facility stores, manufactures, transports, recycles, or handles dangerous or hazardous materials, you need a spill control and containment plan. Oils and chemicals are used just about everywhere you look – especially in a warehouse or factory. Accidents or improper handling of these oils and chemicals can result in dangerous work environments or polluted waterways.
In order to ensure a safe work environment, it is essential to take proactive steps that prepare your facility in the event of a spill.
Can-Ross Environmental Services Ltd. is a leading provider of spill control and containment products and assessments in Canada. Serving the most dynamic businesses in the country, we provide security and peace of mind by identifying spill risks and providing practical and effective solutions to those risks.
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