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The Complete Guide to Spill Kits

Oil & fuel spill kit

A spill kit is a set of tools and materials specifically designed to clean up and manage spills of hazardous substances, such as chemicals or oils. They usually include absorbent pads, gloves, protective gear, disposal bags, and instructions for safe spill response and clean-up.


What Is A Spill Kit?


A spill kit is a collection of equipment that is used to efficiently and safely remove any type of spills from small spills to large leaks of a variety of hazardous fluids and substances. In many different workplaces, there are lots of hazardous liquids used and they can have a significant, negative impact on the workers, the premises and the environment if any spills are not dealt with.

A spill kit is a requirement in the workplaces that deal with hazardous substances. The materials and equipment within the spill kit must be used by fully trained and competent employees who know how to use each item correctly to fully control all spills and leaks. This ensures that the spread of the hazardous liquid is limited, neutralised and safely disposed of.


What is a Spill Kit Used For?


A spill kit is available in all workplaces that handle hazardous substances such as storage in warehouses, laboratories that use the hazardous liquid in testing and also in places like garages and mechanics where there is a lot of oil, petrol and diesel used. Construction sites, restaurants and other places of hospitality and health care environments will also use spill kits.

The spill kits are used to minimise risk in the workplace by quickly and efficiently dealing with any hazardous spills, neutralising the threat and preventing the spread of any harmful substances into other areas of the workplace environment. There are various options for spill kits depending on the hazardous substances which include general purpose spill kits, chemical spill kits and oil and fuel spill kits.



spill clean up on floor

How do You Use a Spill Kit?


A spill kit must only be used by workers who have been trained to use it correctly with the right equipment available.

Steps on how to use a spill kit:

  1. If anyone has been injured by the spill, always call for medical help first and if the spill is very large or has created a fire, call the fire brigade.

  2. Check the contents of the spill kit to ensure there is enough equipment for the size of the spillage.

  3. Apply caution tape around the area to stop people from entering.

  4. Apply spill socks to any drains to prevent the substance from spreading.

  5. Wear appropriate PPE such as gloves, masks, gowns and eye protection.

  6. Start on the outer edge of the spill and apply absorbents.

  7. Collect the absorbent waste and place in a bag labelled hazardous.

  8. Use disinfectant and spill pads to decontaminate the area and place extra waste in the hazardous bag.

  9. Remove PPE and add to the bag before you seal and dispose of it.

  10. Make sure the spill kit is replenished ready for next time.



Contents of a Spill Kit


There are different types of spill kits depending on the workplace and the type of hazardous substance that can leak but they will all have the main components of equipment to create a spill kit.

What a spill kit contains:

  • Disposable PPE – to protect the worker from the harmful substances consisting of gloves, safety goggles, masks and disposable waste bags.

  • A bin – to safely dispose of the hazardous substance and materials used to absorb it.

  • Labels – to label the waste bags and ensure people know what is inside.

  • Twist ties – to efficiently tie up the waste bags and prevent any leakages.

  • Caution tape – to cordon off the affected area with clear signage to stop workers from entering.

  • Absorbent pads and socks – to absorb the hazardous substance and collect safely.

It is advised that spill kits are checked every 6 months to ensure all the equipment is still inside and it’s ready for use at any time.



When Should You Use a Spill Kit?


There are many types of hazardous substances in the workplace and a spill kit must be used whenever any hazardous substance is spilt. The spill should not be left unmanaged and must be dealt with immediately after it occurs for workplaces to stay in compliance with the HSE regulations.

Spill kits can be used on hazardous substances such as:

  • Corrosive chemicals

  • Toxic substances

  • Carcinogens

  • Irritants

Manufacturers must put the associated hazard symbols on the containers of each substance to ensure everyone knows what is inside and the corresponding safety information.

A risk assessment must be performed in every workplace that uses hazardous substances, to determine what safety measures to implement, to prevent spills and effectively manage any spills. This will also help you decide where to place the spill kit within easy access of harmful substances if and when a spill occurs.



Three Main Types of Spill Kit


There are various types of spill kit available and the right one for your workplace will depend on the type of hazardous substance involved. As stated by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), the risk assessment will identify the hazards and help you understand which spill kit is required for each site.

The three most common types of Spill Kit include:


Oil and fuels are common materials in many workplaces including mechanics and garages and as these substances are flammable, the specific spill kit will include materials that help to prevent the spread of the flammable liquids and minimise risk to the workplace environment.



The chemical spill kits are specially designed to contain, neutralise and dispose of any hazardous chemical spills. This includes acids, pesticides and solvents and the kit uses chemical absorbents made from polypropylene which provide chemical resistance.



Maintenance spill kits include a range of items designed to efficiently clean up hazardous spills such as non corrosive liquids, hydrocarbons and water based and organic liquids. The spill kits are available in different sizes depending on the amount of hazardous substance the workplace uses.


Relevant Legislation


The HSE provides various legislation of the handling of hazardous spills in the workplace and employers must comply with the regulations in order to keep everyone safe. The law states that you must have adequate facilities to contain and manage the liquid and therefore protect the environment from contamination.

Relevant legislation includes:

The HSE COMAH provides guidance on the requirement for emergency responses and spill control which include a site emergency plan, employee training, area evacuation, fire fighting and the safe removal, stabilisation and neutralisation of harmful substances.


Where Should a Spill Kit be Located?


A risk assessment in the workplace will help to determine where the spill kits should be located. You need to identify the hazards and locate where the majority of them are in relation to the threat of a spill. The spill kit should then be placed as close as possible to the area so that is easily accessible in an emergency.

You need to think about where a hazardous spill is most likely to take place, whether on the warehouse floor, on the production line or in the delivery bay due to damaged goods. The spill kit must be nearby so employees are able to work quickly in controlling and neutralising the spill and all employees who may be involved must receive appropriate training on how to respond.


What Substances Require a Spill Kit?


There are many hazardous substances that can be found in workplaces that require spill kits to safely clean up the spill.

Hazardous substances that require a spill kit include:

  • Oil / petrol / diesel

  • Bodily fluids such as blood, urine, vomit etc

  • Chemicals such as acids and alkalis

  • Cooking oils and other food waste

  • Sewage

  • Solvents such as methanol and acetone

The spill kits consist of specific equipment that is organised to deal with these types of hazardous spills to ensure it is rendered harmless and safe to dispose.


hazardous chemical check list

Employers Responsibilities


As stated by the HSE and the Health and Safety at Work Act, employers have a duty of care to ensure all risks are identified and managed to help prevent and minimise accidents and injuries at work.

Employers must oversee that spill kits are regularly inspected and maintained to check all the contents are readily available and fit for purpose. Employers must also ensure that all employees that work with hazardous substances are provided with the appropriate PPE and equipment to protect themselves and others. Employers must ensure that employees receive the appropriate training on how to work with hazardous substances safely and how to use the spill kit correctly when needed.


A spill kit is an essential requirement for all workplaces that use, deliver and are at risk from hazardous substances. There are different types of spill kits and workplaces must use the appropriate one depending on the type of hazardous substance to safely and efficiently clean up any spills and leaks.




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