Hazardous Materials Spill

NOTE: The type, severity, reactions, and impact of an incident are not always the same. The information provided below is some suggested actions to take. This may or may not be everything you should or should not do as your actions may vary depending on the incident.


  • You should fully understand the hazardous characteristics of the specific chemicals that you use.
  • The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each chemical is your best source of information on hazards associated with the material. It will give you personal protective equipment information you will need to wear when working with the chemical. Always be aware of any warning signs on containers.
  • At a minimum, you should know:
    1. The minimum quantity of material that is toxic or hazardous;
    2. The specific routes of entry that can cause injury - through the skin or eye, by ingestion, by inhalation, through injection;
    3. The type(s) of hazard(s) - corrosive, explosive, flammable, reactive, sensitizer, toxic;
    4. The types of injury the material can cause - acute toxicity, chronic toxicity, carcinogen, mutagen, teratogen;
    5. The symptoms of over-exposure as well as the target organs that may be involved;
    6. The physical characteristics of the material - physical state (solid, liquid, gas), vapor density, vapor pressure, flammability;
    7. Chemical compatibility and incompatibilities;
    8. What personal protective equipment (PPE) is recommended to safely work with the material- including Fume Hoods.
  • To protect yourself from unnecessary exposures, you should adopt the following safe work practices:
    1. Always try to work in a fume hood whenever possible;
    2. Never work alone when handling hazardous materials;
    3. Always keep your work area clean;
    4. Always wear eye protection;
    5. Always wear a clean laboratory coat;
    6. Always wear the proper type of gloves for the materials you are handling;
    7. Always wash your hands before leaving your work area, and before eating, drinking, or using the bathroom;
    8. Always label every container that holds hazardous materials;
    9. Always keep storage containers closed, and the lids tightly secured, when they are not in use.
    10. Always segregate hazardous materials and keep incompatible materials apart;
    11. Always contact Health and Safety for hazardous materials disposal services, to ask questions, to raise concerns, to review your protocols, and to ship your hazardous materials.

Beginning or During

  • Always respond promptly to a spill or accident involving hazardous materials.
  • If you have been properly trained by your supervisor, you may clean up a small chemical spill with the assistance of other personnel in your area.
  • A Small Spill:
    1. There is little threat to human health personnel property or to the environment, and;
    2. There are no injuries beyond what simple first aid can manage, and;
    3. The characteristics and the hazards of the material are known, and;
    4. You have both the supplies and the knowledge necessary to clean up the materials.
  • A Large Spill:
    1. Report injuries to the University Police at (662) 915-4911 immediately.
    2. Contact Health and Safety at (662) 915-5433.
    3. Tend to injured personnel if you can do so without causing harm to yourself.
    4. Leave the area of the spill.
  • Whenever possible, be prepared to give the following information when requesting emergency assistance:
    1. Where has the hazardous material spill occurred? Specify building and room number.
    2. Has there been a fire and/or explosion?
    3. Are there any injuries?
    4. What is the name(s) of the material(s) spilled?
    5. How much materials has spilled?
    6. What is the state of the material - solid, liquid, gas - or combination?
    7. Is any of the hazardous material escaping from the spill location?
  • If you are unsure of material that has spilled, or if the spill produces noxious odor, smoke, or steam, leave area immediately.
  • Attempt to activate the building alarm system if you feel that you, and others, should evacuate the building. Immediately call (662) 915-4911.


Provide as much additional information to investigators to determine exact cause of the incident, and to assist in preventing future incidents.