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Emergency Planning for Decontamination

Posted on Fri, Feb 04, 2011

Response to a hazardous material release must involve decontamination planning. Below are basic decontamination procedures to consider.

Area Designations are as follows:
  • Cold Zone or Safe area
  • Warm or Contamination Reduction Zone
  • Hot Zone

When responders exit the Hot Zone, they must be decontaminated in order to ensure the safety of those they encounter. Decontamination is performed in the Warm Zone, or contamination reduction zone. Minimum measures for decontamination should include the following seven steps:

1. Equipment Drop- Deposit equipment used on site (tools, sampling devices and containers, monitoring instruments, radios, clipboards, etc.) on specified drop cloths. Segregation at the drop reduces the probability of cross contamination. During hot weather operations, a cool down station may be set up within this area.

2. Outer Garment – Scrub outer boots, outer gloves, and splash suit with decontamination solution or detergent and water and rinse.

3. Outer Boots and Gloves Drop - Remove outer boots and gloves. Deposit in container with plastic liner.

4. Canister or Mask Change - If worker leaves exclusion zone to change canister (or mask) or this is the last step in the decontamination procedures; worker's canister is exchanged, new outer gloves and boot covers are donned, joints are taped, the worker returns to duty.

5. Inner Boot, Glove and Outer Garment Removal - Boots, chemical-resistant splash suit, inner gloves removed and deposited in separate containers lined with plastic.

6. Face Piece Removal – Face piece is removed. Avoid touching face with fingers. Face piece deposited on plastic sheet.

7. Field Wash- Hands and face are thoroughly washed. Shower as soon as possible.

Each zone should be fully identified by signs, barrier tape, or other means and all responding personnel should understand these procedures prior to entering the scene.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

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Tags: PHMSA, OSHA HAZWOPER, Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Management Program, Chemical Industry