Oregon State University

302: Chemical Spill Management

Safety Policy & Procedure Manual
Section 300: Laboratory Safety


To protect employees and the university community by providing guidance and instruction on how to effectively manage a chemical spill.


Faculty, staff, and students who discover or are involved in a chemical emergency.


Hazardous Chemicals

A chemical or material is considered hazardous if:

  • It is flammable, highly reactive, or explosive
  • It generates harmful vapors or dust particles that affect eyes or lungs.
  • It is corrosive and attacks skin, clothing, equipment, furniture or facilities.
  • It is poisonous by ingestion or absorption.
  • It is radioactive.  (For spills of radioactive material, immediately call Radiation Safety, 7-2227, and follow their instructions.)


Faculty, staff, or students who discover or are involved in a hazardous chemical spill are responsible for notifying the appropriate authorities and following established protocol. This protocol is outlined in OSU Safety Instruction #19 and found on the EH&S Web site.

Spilled chemicals should be effectively and quickly contained and cleaned up.  Such spills should be handled correctly to avoid extensive property damage and personal injury.

EH&S Responsibility

Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) is responsible for maintaining a Hazardous Material Spill Response Program that is in compliance with applicable policies, rules and regulations.  The EH&S Hazardous Material Spill Response Program provides access to Material Safety Data Sheets that provide guidance and/or assistance with spill cleanup, the maintenance of hazardous chemical spill response equipment and materials, and procedures for notifying authorities (e.g. DEQ) in case of major spills

Supervisor Responsibility

Supervisors working with hazardous materials are responsible for being familiar with the hazardous properties of the materials, establishing appropriate spill procedures, being familiar with the EH&S Hazardous Chemical program, and for ensuring that all employees are aware of spill policies and procedures.

Employee Responsibility

All employees working in areas where hazardous materials are used or stored are responsible for knowing proper procedures to deal with spills and the requirement that large spills (more than one gallon liquid or one pound solid) must be immediately reported to EH&S.


General Guidelines

  1. The first step in dealing with any chemical spill is assessment of the magnitude of spilled material and the associated level of hazard.  No one should attempt to deal with a spill until properly equipped with adequate personal protective equipment and spill treatment materials.
  2. Risk assessment is successful only if personnel are familiar with the hazardous properties of the material they are handling and have developed methods to follow in the event of a spill.   Information of this type is available from safety data sheets and from Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S).  The basic philosophy of chemical spill control at OSU is to contain and absorb first, treat second.
  3. EH&S has the responsibility to respond to chemical spills and oversee cleanup activities.  EH&S also has the authority to ensure that appropriate cleanup steps are taken in accordance with applicable environmental regulations.  EH&S maintains a chemical spill response vehicle that is equipped to handle typical chemical spills.  Contact EH&S for assistance when dealing with a chemical spill by calling 7-2273, or by contacting Public Safety, 7-3010. 
  4. The capability of EH&S to deal with chemical spills does not lessen the responsibility of laboratories to develop their own plans on how to safely deal with small spills.  Several chemical spill kits are commercially available for small spills and their use is encouraged.  For assistance in kit selection, contact EH&S.
  5. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has established regulations that require the submission of reports for spills that are above certain amounts.  All large spills of a hazardous chemical (more than one gallon liquid or one pound solid) must be reported promptly to EH&S, who will then make the report to DEQ if necessary.


Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) - (541) 737-2273
Radiation Safety (RS) - (541) 737-2227

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