Hazardous Material Spill Procedure

Mohawk College is committed to responding quickly and appropriately to extraordinary situations involving hazardous materials that could potentially have devastating effects on the Mohawk College community. Spills may be relatively minor, posing minimal risk and that can be cleaned-up easily. Or, depending on the material and for larger spills, they may present a significant fire, health or environmental hazard that requires a qualified emergency spill response company for clean-up. This procedure ensures response to spills of hazardous materials is promptly initiated for the protection of health, property and the environment.

On this page:

1. Application and Scope

This procedure applies to all departments that store or handle hazardous products.


2. Definitions

"Hazardous Product" is any product, mixture, material or substance that is classified into a category or subcategory of a hazard class in accordance with the Hazardous Products Regulations (HPR). For the purpose of this procedure, hazardous product has the same meaning as "hazardous material".

"Major Spill" refers to a spill involving quantities that cannot be contained safely with the spill kit materials on site and/or it threaten the building or the environment (e.g. discharge into sewer). Depending on the materials involved, major spills may pose significant fire, health or environmental hazard that require prompt clean-up by a qualified emergency spill response company.

"Minor Spill" refers to a spill involving a quantity small enough such that the emergency spill kit materials available are sufficient to contain and clean-up the spill.

"Safety Data Sheet (SDS)" is a 16-section document that provides detailed hazard and safety information on safe use, handling, storage and disposal procedures as required by the Hazardous Products Regulations. Safety Data Sheets (formerly known as "Material Safety Data Sheet")


3. Responsibilities

3.1. Managers

  • Substitute non-hazardous or less-hazardous products for hazardous products where practicable.
  • Limit chemical inventories to the smallest practical level and ensure quantities of hazardous products required for immediate use, are limited to one day's use, to minimize associated risks.
  • Maintain a list of hazardous products and ensure Safety Data Sheets are obtained for all hazardous products used, and updated as soon as is practicable after significant new data about the product is provided by the supplier or otherwise becomes available.
  • Ensure Safety Data Sheets are readily available for employees to review, either in hard copy or electronically. Safety data sheets may be obtained online through the supplier/manufacturer's website or through other online SDS resources.
  • Employees must be trained to access electronic safety data sheets.
  • Ensure workplace WHMIS labels are affixed to containers of hazardous products under the following conditions: the original supplier label has become illegible or is missing; the hazardous product is produced in the workplace for use in the workplace; and when a hazardous product is transferred from the original container to another container.
  • Ensure employees who work with or who may be exposed to a hazardous product complete the WHMIS training module and that worksite specific training and orientation is provided (e.g. safe handling procedures, location of safety data sheets, location of emergency equipment (e.g. eyewash, shower, spill kit); gas or vapour monitoring systems, use of ventilation systems).
  • Provide personal protective equipment (e.g. Gloves, safety glasses/goggles, face shield, apron, respirator etc.) to ensure employees are protected and work safely with hazardous materials.
  • Ensure engineering control measures and related safety equipment is properly maintained in good working condition. (e.g. Laboratory fume hoods/cabinets, local exhaust ventilation systems, paint booths, gas or vapour monitoring systems etc.).
  • Ensure chemical spill kits and emergency equipment such as eyewash stations and emergency showers are provided and maintained in good working condition.
  • Ensure hazardous waste is disposed properly in accordance with Ontario Ministry of Environment Regulation 347 "Hazardous Waste".

3.2. Employees

  • Complete WHMIS training to work safely with hazardous products used in the workplace.
  • Review WH MIS labels and Safety Data Sheets prior to using hazardous products.
  • Ensure all containers of hazardous products are properly labeled and stored.
  • Follow procedures for safe handling, use, storage and disposal of hazardous products.
  • Use engineering controls and personal protective equipment (e.g. gloves, glasses, goggles, face shield, lab coats, etc.) to minimize contact and control exposures to hazardous products.
  • Report hazardous or unsafe chemical incidents or exposures to their manager.
  • Contact the manager if uncertain how to work safely with a hazardous product or require more information.

3.3. Occupational Health and Safety

  • Develop and review the WHMIS program with the Joint Health and Safety Committee and review and revise the program as required.
  • Respond to or provide advice in the event of an emergency involving a hazardous product.
  • Assist departments with the disposal of hazardous waste in accordance with environmental requirements.
  • Assist with identification, selection and substitution of non-hazardous or less hazardous products.

3.4. Contractors and Third Parties

  • Ensure containers of hazardous products brought onto Mohawk College property are labeled properly.
  • Ensure safety data sheets for hazardous products used on site are readily available for review.
  • Ensure their workers are trained in WHMIS and know how to safely use hazardous products on site.
  • Inform their Mohawk College contact person of any health and safety or chemical exposure concerns arising from the use or storage of hazardous products on site.


4. Procedure

4.1. In the event of a spill

  • Determine the type of spill (Minor or Major).
  • Refer to Safety Data Sheet for applicable spill response materials and procedures.
  • Report all spills to the person in charge of, or responsible for the area.

4.2. Minor Spills

  • Promptly stop or shut off the source of the spill.
  • Shut down activities and isolate the spill.
  • Eliminate all sources of ignition (e.g. electrical equipment, sparks, flames etc.).
  • Ventilate the area using natural or mechanical ventilation (e.g. fume hood, open doors, windows etc.).
  • Contain spills by placing a dam around them using absorbent socks or inert absorbent material. Prevent material from entering drains or sewers.
  • Place absorbent or neutralizing material on the material (refer to SDS for proper procedure).
  • Pick up the material with a scoop or shovel made of non-sparking and non-reactive material and place in a compatible container, label and dispose as hazardous waste.

4.3. Major Spills

  • Promptly stop or shut off the source of the spill.
  • Shut down activities and isolate the spill, if possible and safe to do so.
  • Eliminate all sources of ignition (e.g. electrical equipment, sparks, flames etc.) if possible and safe to do so.
  • Evacuate the area and restrict further access.
  • Notify the person in charge of, or responsible for the area.
  • Notify Security Services.
  • Pull the fire alarm if necessary.
  • Evacuate the building if the fire alarm is activated.

4.4. Emergency Response Plan

The College will implement the Emergency Response Plan to protect the College community from hazardous exposures and to mitigate environmental impact as necessary.

4.5. Hazardous waste

Hazardous waste is regulated by the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Environment Regulation 347 "General-Waste Management" to ensure hazardous waste is disposed in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

Each department that generates hazardous waste is responsible for ensuring hazardous waste is properly disposed. The Occupational Health & Safety Office coordinates regular hazardous waste pick-ups and disposal and can be contacted for additional advice.


5. Communication with the Media

All communication with the media about the nature of the emergency should be handled by the Director of Communications (or designate) and in accordance with CRP152 Media Relations Procedure.


6. Internal Communication

The procedures outlined in ERP802 - Internal Crisis Communication Procedure will apply.


7. Revision Date

May 2021


8. Attachments


9. Specific Links

Appendix A - Emergency Contacts

Police, Fire, Medical

From any phone: 911

College Emergency Services (24/7)

On College phone lines (Fennell): 55
IAHS at McMaster: 88

College Departments

Occupational Health and Safety Department: 2225
Facilities Management Department: 2336

Emergency Response Contractors (24/7)

Tervita Emergency Services: 1-800-327-7455
Quantum Murray Emergency Response: 1-800/378-7455

Ministry of Environment Spills Action Center



Contact information for Mohawk College staff identified above is available through Security Services and the Emergency Response Plan.