Oil spill response plans may be ineffective if resources are not identified and contracted to support necessary response activities in the event of an oil spill . Depending on the hazards at a particular site, external response resources are typically necessary. However, a skilled and well-trained work force may constitute a facility’s most valuable resource in the event of a hazardous spill.
Through proper safety and training, all personnel should be aware of site hazards and mitigation procedures and possess a clear understanding of how and when to carry out their assigned emergency duties.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard 1910.120 (HAZWOPER), “Employers who will evacuate their employees from the worksite location when an emergency occurs and who do not permit any of their employees to assist in handling the emergency are exempt from the requirements of paragraph (p)(8) if they provide an emergency action plan complying with 29 CFR 1910.38.
Unless specifically trained in associated HAZWOPER emergency response levels, employees should respond in a defensive manner without attempting to terminate the release. If the situation dictates, an employee who is not trained in the HAZWOPER standard is to contain the release from a safe distance, limit expansion if possible, and prevent exposures. Upon a discovery of a hazardous spill, the initial responder should take the following actions:
- Immediate ascertain safety and health precautions and take personal protective measures, potentially dawning the appropriate personal protective equipment
- Initiate response actions consistent with level of training and response plan procedures
- Activate appropriate alarm signal
- Report the emergency and initiate proper notifications checklist
- All other appropriate safety and health precautions provided to the employer's own employees should be used to assure the safety and health of these personnel.
Employees who are trained to respond to applicable site hazards have a greater ability to preserve life, property and the environment. Designing and conducting exercises are time consuming, but valuable in providing practice, assessing the state of your program, and identifying gaps and deficiencies that should be addressed prior to experiencing an actual emergency.