hazardous material spill emergency

Hazardous materials are an integral part of campus operations and support the school in work related to the clinical, research and academic missions of Washington University. Though on-campus use of hazardous materials is generally safe, a hazardous materials incident does have the potential to occur.

Risks to faculty, staff and students occur if a chemical is used unsafely or released in harmful amounts into the environment. This can be caused by equipment failure, human error, natural disaster or sabotage.

How to prepare before it happens

  • Know which hazardous materials are in your area, their locations and safety actions to respond.
  • Be able to quickly access the appropriate Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for all products in your area.
  • Make sure hazardous materials are properly stored and secured.
  • Have appropriate Personal Protective Equipment available and accessible in your area.
  • Know locations of closest eye wash stations.
  • Know at least two ways to get out of a room.

What to do when it happens

  • Immediately notify affected personnel to evacuate the area.
  • If the spill material is flammable, turn off ignition and heat sources. Leave the local exhaust ventilation (fume hoods) on.
  • Avoid breathing vapors of the spilled material.
  • Call the appropriate emergency contact for your location to report the incident:
    • Danforth Campus: 314-935-5555
    • School of Medicine: 314-362-4357
    • North/West/South Campus & Tyson Research: 911 then 314-935-5555
  • Do not attempt to contain or clean up any spills unless you have been trained to do so.
  • If contaminated by the spill, avoid contact with others, remain in the area and wash off contamination and administer any required first aid.
  • If you are not contaminated, leave the area and close the door behind you to contain the spill.
  • If building evacuation is required, pull the fire alarm and gather at your Emergency Assembly Point.

What to do right after it happens

  • Provide any requested information to emergency responders.

Additional resources