University Safety and Assurances

Chemical Spill Response

Quick Reference: Emergency Response to Chemical Spill


Be Prepared in Advance

Cleaning Up Chemical Spill

Have a spill kit available to clean up minor spills. That kit should include:

  • Instructions and/or Material Safety Data Sheets for the chemical in use
  • Personal protective equipment including gloves, safety goggles and other protective clothing
  • Spill pads or pillows sufficient to contain and absorb 1 liter of liquid
  • Plastic bags or containers to place spill waste material

Do NOT attempt to clean up a spill if any of the following conditions apply:

  • More than one chemical has spilled;
  • The quantity spilled is greater than one liter;
  • The substance is unknown or you are uncertain of the hazards of the substance; or
  • You are uncomfortable in the situation.

Minor Spill Response

(Less than 8 oz. of a Known Material)

Minor spills may be controlled and cleaned up by employees who work with the substance and understand the hazards of the material following these steps:

  • Alert people in the immediate area of the spill;
  • Wear protective equipment, including safety goggles, gloves and a long-sleeved shirt or other protective clothing;
  • If spilled material is flammable, turn off ignition and heat sources.
  • Avoid breathing vapors from the spill;
  • Apply spill pillow/pads or other absorbent material, first around the outside of the spill, encircling the material, then absorb to the center of the spill;
  • Sweep/shovel up absorbent material and place into a sealed, leak-proof bag or container;
  • Dispose of all materials (gloves, brooms, paper towels) used to clean up the spill in a sealed container as well; and
  • Label and dispose of all bags or containers as hazardous waste. Contact University Safety and Assurances (x4999 or 2883) for a hazardous waste collection.

Major Spill Response

(More than 8 oz. or Unknown Material)

  • Attend to injured or contaminated persons and remove them from exposure as practical.
  • Alert other persons in the area to evacuate. Close the doors to the affected area.
  • Contact the University Police for assistance:
    • From any hard-wired campus phone dial 9-911.

    • From a cell phone, dial 229-9911. You will be connected to a UWM Police Department Dispatcher.
    • From a pay phone, no coin is needed, dial 911.
      • Give your name, information on the material spilled (name, quantity, etc) and the exact location of the spill (room, floor, etc.). Be sure to stay on the phone until released by the emergency operator.

    • Report to the building entrance to provide information to and/or assist emergency personnel.

Other Situations

Chemical spill on body:

  • Remove all contaminated clothing
  • Flood exposed area with running water from a faucet or safety shower for at least 15 minutes
  • Have another individual contact the University Police: 9-911 from any hard-wired campus phone or 229-9911 from a cell phone, to obtain medical attention
  • Report the incident to your supervisor or instructor and University Safety and Assurances

Chemical Splashed in Eye:

  • Immediately rinse eyeball and inner surface of eyelid with water continuously for 15 minutes. Forcibly hold eye lid(s) open to ensure effective wash behind eyelids
  • Have another individual contact the University Police at x9-911 from any campus hard-wired phone, or 229-9911 from a cell phone to obtain medical attention
  • Report the incident to your supervisor or instructor and University Safety and Assurances