Someone once told me, "It's not that you had an accident or made a mistake that matters, it's your actions immediately after that count." It's not a question of 'if' you are going to have a spill but, rather, 'when'! Even though we try our best to prevent bad things from happening, somehow, they do. Planning ahead by having the proper equipment on hand, readily accessible, to deal with a spill is essential. Any delay in responding to a spill could result in more damage, fines, as well as increased complexity of the ultimate cleanup. Being prepared increases the safety of people, property, your business reputation, and the environment, just to name a few.
Like most industrial equipment, lift and hoist equipment has the potential to release many types of fluids resulting in spills — oil, diesel, gasoline, battery acid, and hydraulic fluid. These releases can result from the failure of a hydraulic line, neglected or poor maintenance, foreign objects, or a traffic accident while transporting equipment to and from a job site. Without sounding too cliché, Murphy's Law usually prevails. I can't tell you how many times I've heard about someone doing his job and all of a sudden realizing something's wrong, only to shut down the equipment right on top of a storm drain in the customer's parking lot. This is what I call Patrick's Law, "If it has fluid, it can leak and it will do so at the worst time and in worst location."
Company training is an absolute must. You and your employees must be able to assess the situation and determine if there are safety concerns for the operator or other people in the surrounding area, then assess the situation with regard to the leaking fluids. The biggest concern is if there is a chance of the spill discharging into a storm drain, sewer, or waterway.
Being familiar with your equipment and all its potential leak sources, and being able to identify fluids you could be dealing with is the key to planning ahead. One way of doing this is to use the Andax Pac Spill Preparedness Control Center. This spill response system incorporates color-coding of the response Pacs to a specific color-coded equipment label. These labels are placed on the equipment at all potential leak sources. By facilitating the initial step of identification of the possible leak, the response time can be decreased and greater control of the situation can be realized. For example, a blue color-coded equipment label would be placed on the hydraulic tank of a lift while a pink equipment label would be placed on the battery box. A resulting leak from these areas would correspond to blue or pink color-coded Andax Pac. This results in a faster, more effective response and a positive outcome from a potentially bad situation.
The Spill Preparedness Control Center consists of four spill response Pacs. Each Pac contains sorbent pads and Sorb-Sox mini booms to absorb specific fluids or combinations of fluids, that is, Oil & Oil-Selective, Combo 'general purpose', Chemical/Hazmat, and Battery Acid. This system ensures that no matter what type of spill you have, one of these Pacs will take care of it. Each Pac is vacuum-sealed and will fit behind the driver seat on most vehicles or stow easily in a storage compartment/tool box. Each Pac contains protective gloves, disposal bag, and enough sorbents to handle spills up to 10 gallons and cover more than 47 sq ft. Each Pac comes with an identification label so possible sources of leaks can be pre-labeled — so all you have to do is match the colored label to the same colored Pac to make sure you are using the right sorbents for the spill.
Here is a quick checklist for use when a spill occurs:
- Always make sure that you or anyone around you is not in any immediate danger. Follow your company's guidelines, call the proper authorities, and remember — safety first.
- Identify the spilled fluid and the source of the fluid. Grab the matching color-coded Andax Pac for that fluid.
- Locate any and all drains that could possibly be affected by the fluid release.
- Open the Pac and surround the drain with the Sorb-Sox to prevent any liquid from entering the drain and contaminating any waterways.
- If there are no drains, surround the spill with the Sorb-Sox and lay the absorbent pads down to soak up fluid.
- In the event of a hydraulic hose rupture, where fluid is sprayed over a larger area, the pads will cover a 47-sq-ft area to help absorb this fluid.
- Reporting — follow your company guidelines that may involve notifying the fire department or state agencies.
Being prepared for spills from your equipment and machinery is also a part of customer service and customer satisfaction. Nothing tells your customers that you don't care about them more than having a spill in their parking lot, on their sidewalk, or on the lawn next to their building, and not being prepared to respond to it and clean it up. This is where what you do matters most. Even though you may never have had a spill or leak doesn't mean it won't happen.