Mock chemical spill gets staff talking

Disposing of an unknown substance in a mock chemical spill at Hartland Landfill. Photo credit: Capital Regional District

Workers at recycling depots must be prepared for exposure to harmful chemicals – especially in a household hazardous waste (HHHW) area.

I spoke with Drew Fafard, the site safety coordinator at Hartland Landfill & Recycling Area, north of Victoria, BC. He describes what people bring.

“We take all liquids, known or unknown, whether or not they are in their original container or if they’re in an unmarked pickle jar that people seem to have around their households or in grandpa’s garage or whatever,” Drew says.

During NAOSH Week, Hartland staged a mock chemical spill at the HHHW area. The facility is owned and operated by the Capital Regional District (CRD) – and this mock spill was one of 95 safety activities throughout the CRD.

“We decided to have a mock chemical spill where an unknown liquid substance broke or spilled while it was being transported from somebody’s vehicle to our holding area.”

The CRD won Best Overall for its NAOSH Week activities, both in B.C. and Canada.

“We cordoned off the immediate area and shut down the recycling yard and the HHHW facility,” said Drew. “We radioed the scale house where everybody visits before they come into the yard. We said: ‘We’ve had a spill. Please stop all vehicles from coming in until it’s safe. Please call the fire department to let them know we had a spill.’”

Drew said the exercise was a good way to reinforce written procedures.

“It’s so simple,” he said. “I believe it’s really useful. It gets us all talking. What worked? What didn’t work? Then they can transfer that onto things that are similar but different.”

Congratulations and thanks to the folks of Hartland and the CRD.


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