The large majority of spills are considered accidental. In the case of spills relating to transportation, in particular trucks, used for freighting commercial goods they usually occur due to breakdowns or maintenance requirements. Without a spill kit for your truck in place, and without a basic understanding of how to respond to a truck related spill the impact can be harmful to our Environment, regardless of the fact that the spill is accidental and not the result of carelessness or a deliberate action. Regardless of the nature of the spill, the impact is your responsibility.
What are Spill Kits and Why are they Important for Truck Drivers
Spill kits are a collection of equipment or materials used to protect ourselves personally, our assets and the environment in the event of a spill, leak or other discharge of harmful substances. In the most basic terms, spill kits are combinations of products designed to absorb spilled liquids.
For example, oil from a hydraulic hose that’s ruptured on a truck, or fuel from a planned maintenance procedure like a simple filter change. Spills happen often and having the necessary equipment and understanding of how best to respond to a spill is key for you, your assets and our Environment.
Trucks are used to carry commodities across business locations. Whilst they can be used to carry freight from one place to another, the engine and tanks of trucks also need to be fuelled by chemical substances including lubricants, fuels such as Diesel, and oil to enable them to work.
Therefore operating a truck presents a spill risk.
While it’s typically not considered as risky as operating a bulk fuel transfer or an offshore drill rig it’s still a considerable risk and one you should be very aware of. This is an important consideration because when we speak to people about selecting spill kits for their trucks they almost always jump straight to thinking about the freight being carried instead of the day to day incidental spills that can result due to operating the truck.
Let me assure you there isn’t a spill kit that’s been designed for a 20,000L fuel tanker. However, if there was you wouldn’t actually fit the fuel tanker on the truck because the spill kit would be taking up the available space as it would need to be that substantial in size.
Those massive applications still require spill response equipment obviously, but the requirement is not to clean up a 20,000L spill, for that they have procedures, mitigation strategies, safety management and in-house inspection systems along with emergency service contacts and a team of people constantly reviewing how they operate. If you’re working or involved in this type of carrying you still, however, have the risk of rupturing brake lines, hydraulic lines, engine leaks and so on.
Let’s look at two potential scenarios below:
SCENARIO 1: Imagine being a delivery driver with a ruptured brake line and sitting in the middle of a client’s driveway with no onboard spill kit? What do you do? What impression are you providing of the company you are working for? How do you feel when the focus is on you?
SCENARIO 2: Imagine being a delivery driver with a ruptured brake line and sitting in the middle of a client’s driveway with not only a spill kit that’s suitable for the spill, but also the knowledge of how to use the components included in the truck spill kit and the correct spill response procedures to follow.
Remember when a spill occurs you are required to respond. It’s the collaborative effort of people and organizations that matter and being proactive allows us to respond in the best manner possible.
Spill kits for trucks are therefore designed to fit truck rigs unobtrusively, in a way that’s quickly accessible, keeping operators prepared for clean-up activities in the event that an accidental spill occurs. Suitable truck spill kits can come in the form of bags, buckets, bins, tool boxes and so on, but it’s what inside that ultimately counts!
Types of Vehicle Spill Kits
There are many different spill kits used across various industries but it need not be confusing. Spill kits have thousands of potential applications but truth be known there are only three major types and from those types, we can vary the spill kit’s content to suit thousands of applications. Based on this, the next question should always be: What spill kit do you need, oil? General Purpose? or Hazardous chemical? It is that simple.
There are three main types of spill kits;
- General purpose or otherwise known as universal
- Oil only, or oil and fuel, or hydrocarbon
- Hazardous chemical spill kits (HAZCHEM).
General Purpose Spill Kit:
This is the most common type of spill kit on the market. It is designed to absorb a very wide range of liquids in the event of a spill. It contains spill pads, pillows, spill socks, and loose absorbents. These materials are ideal for absorbing water, coolants, antifreeze, brake fluids, oil/fuel/hydrocarbon and solvents, therefore, fitting many applications, such as;
- Truck and Freight
- Plant and machinery operators
Oil and Fuel Spill Kit
This type of spill kit is designed to clean up grease and oil-based liquids. The white absorbents of an oil spill kit will repel water, thereby, highly recommended for absorbing oil spills from water substances. If your application is oil based spills on or near water, then this is the type of kit for you.
E.G. operating a digger on the edge of a river bank, building a boat ramp, bridge, or operating a workboat, dredge and so on.
AZCHEM Spill Kit
This type of spill kit is designed to absorb acid spills as well as other caustic and toxic liquid chemicals. HAZCHEM SPILL KITS are an article in themselves.
HAZCHEM SPILL KITS require careful consideration. My advice is first to think about safety, contact the chemical supplier, look at the technical data sheets for those chemicals, understand the risks involved with that chemical e.g. skin and eye contact or ingestion and have a procedure in place for accidents.
Ensure you have an up to date and effective in-house policy and always look to review and improve on it. It is also advisable to consult with your staff who work directly with the substance, they often have very logical and safe ideas from being exposed. The main consideration is taking the time to fully understand the hazardous materials you are working with – i.e. a company whose business involves dealing with particular chemicals should know better than the supplier the best way to respond if an accidental spill occurs, because a proactive company will obtain relevant data and fully understand the risks associated with the product.
Truck drivers and/or owners need to have adequate knowledge and understanding of how to select the correct spill kits for their intended purpose:
- Assess your risk
Assessment has to be conducted on the entire life cycle of the truck that is to be fitted with the truck spill kit. The assessment should encompass internal and external issues relating to the truck such as its engine substances and transportation routes.
- Analyse Hazards
Once the harmful substances that are likely to be handled by the truck have been identified, the truck owner or driver is advised to analyze the potential hazards that can potentially occur (in the event of an accidental spill) and the negative impact it could have.
Once the potential hazards have been identified, the truck owner and/or driver would need to implement control measures by procuring appropriate spill kits that can be used to clean-up the identified harmful substances (to reduce its negative impacts) in the event of an accidental spill.
e.g. you have assessed the risk and made the selection, now train yourself how to respond if it happens.
You’re not expected to be an expert, but a supplier of a product should have specialized knowledge of the safety requirements of that product. As a truck operator, once you have read this information you are a long way through the process though and your also better equipped for talking to suppliers of spill kits.
To procure spill kits that are relevant to a truck’s needs, truck owners or drivers will need to have information about the type of substances that are used by his/her truck. This information should be presented to a trusted supplier. In general, a supplier should have adequate knowledge of spill kits suited for managing different types of substances.
Use and Benefits
In general, spill kits are improved continually and information on how to use them are contained in the product’s manual. Some suppliers should be able to offer training, Trade Environmental PTY LTD work closely with a registered training and consultation team offering a one-stop fully accredited training and supply arm. If your Company has an
If your Company has an in-house policy for staff to be formally trained then that’s great, but it doesn’t mean those people are better at cleaning up spills then the non-accredited. Do the work, understand it and be confident with or without certification.
Having shed light on spill kits, it is vitally important that truck owners or drivers understand that in the event of an accident involving trucks, there may be leakages or spillages of harmful substances and carefully selected spill kits for trucks are required for cleaning up substances from the scene. They should familiarise themselves with the manuals and ensure that they are competent in using them. Also, their competency in using them should be tested periodically and any gaps identified should be filled immediately. Attending a spill and needing a manual to do it suggests you haven’t done enough pre-planning and it also means your response time is slower to the personnel that know what they’re doing before the spill happens.
The Truck driver should familiarise themselves with the manuals and ensure that they are competent in using them. Also, their competency in using them should be tested periodically and any gaps identified should be filled immediately. Attending a spill and needing a manual to do it suggests you haven’t done enough pre-planning and it also means your response time is slower to the personnel that know what they’re doing before the spill happens.
Thanks for reading