When is it safe to clean up a spill by myself?

Important phone numbers at UCLA

UCLA EH&S Hot Line for hazardous chemical and biological spills and injuries (310) 825-9797 (8:30 AM to 5:30 AM)
UCLA emergencies -24 hours- call 911 from a cell or landline phone
UCLA EH&S General Line for non-hazardous spills call (310) 825-5689 for advice

The spilled chemical is hazardous

For large (>1 l)) spills of hazardous chemical materials, spills containing highly toxic, volatile or flammable chemicals, spills with BSL2 pathogens (>100 ml)

  • Immediately alert co-workers and if safe seal off drains to prevent spill from spreading.
  • Evacuate the lab and call 911
  • Place Chemical Spill - Do Not Enter signs on all outside lab doors.
  • If spill contains flammables, turn off all power sources - but only if it is safe to do so.
  • Do not clean up spill; UCLA's HAZMAT Team will do the cleanup.
  • Notify your supervisor.

For spills of hazardous chemical materials, spills containing highly toxic chemicals or spills with BSL2 pathogens on body or clothes

  • Remove all affected clothing.
  • Rinse body thoroughly under emergency shower for at least 15 min.
  • Splashed to eyes: Immediately rinse eyeball and inner surface of eyelid with water for 15 min by forcibly holding the eye open.
  • Seek medical attention.
  • Report the incident to your supervisor and to EH&S at (310) 825-9797.

For small (<1 l) spills of hazardous chemical materials

  • Alert your co-workers immediately, block off the spill area with barrier tape and attach spill cleanup signs.
  • Contain the spilled material, prevent it from spreading, i.e., close the bottle, place absorbent material down, etc).
  • Dike the spill by surrounding the area with absorbent materials such as paper towels, pads, pillows, etc.
  • Obtain the SDS for information on the nature of the chemical, the appropriate cleanup procedure and the recommended PPE for the cleanup.
  • Clean up the spill using the spill cleanup kit and using the appropriate PPE:
    • Neutralize acids with sodium bicarbonate and bases with citric acid.
    • Place all materials, including paper towels used in the cleanup, into a bag (not biohazard bag).
    • Double (or triple) bag waste and label the waste bags using a Hazardous Waste Online Waste Tags.
    • Dispose of all waste as Hazardous Waste.
    • Bring the waste bags to the next regularly scheduled Hazardous Waste pickup, or call UCLA’s EH&S at (310) 206-1887 to schedule a pick-up.
    • Wash affected surfaces with soap and water and dispose waste by ordinary means.
  • Report the incident to your supervisor and to EH&S at (310) 825-5689.

The spilled chemical is unknown

  • Assume the chemical is very hazardous and call 911.
  • Alert your co-workers immediately, evacuate the lab, and place Spill Clean-up signs to the outside of lab doors.
  • Notify your supervisor.

The spilled chemical is not hazardous

  • Alert your co-workers.
  • Contain the spilled material and prevent it from spreading, i.e., close the bottle, place absorbent material down, etc).
  • If the spill might endanger others (e.g., they might slip and fall), block off the area and attach spill cleanup signs.
  • Obtain the SDS to confirm that the chemical is not hazardous and to get advice on the cleanup procedure if necessary.
  • Clean up the spill using the spill cleanup kit or other means (paper towels, etc.).
  • Double (or triple) bag waste and label the waste bags using Hazardous Waste Online Waste Tags. Dispose of all waste as Hazardous Waste even if not hazardous. Large amounts of non-hazardous chemicals can be harmful to the environment.
  • For large spills, recruit others for help.
  • Notify your supervisor.

Additional Information