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Industrial Incident

Guidelines for Incident Command

  1. Establish Incident Command System (FEMA).

  2. Approach site with caution.
    Position personnel, vehicles, and command post at a safe distance upwind and uphill of the site, if possible.

  3. Ensure safety of responders.
    • Identify all hazards (danger of fire, explosion, toxic fumes, electrical hazards, structural collapse, etc.).
    • Obtain information concerning the chemicals from placards, labels, shipping documents, and other immediately available sources.
    • Consult Emergency Response Guidebook (PDF - 4.7 MB) (2016 Emergency Response Guidebook: A Guidebook for First Responders During the Initial Phase of a Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials Incident, Department of Transportation, 2016). (Online version at Transport Canada) (Mobile apps)
    • Consult NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards for symptoms, measurement methods, and PPE recommendations.
    • Keep upwind of smoke, fumes, etc.
    • Follow usual protocols for respiratory protection, use of protective clothing (link to PPE page), and turnout gear.
    • Monitor changing conditions that could create hazardous situations.

  4. Locate victims and facilitate extrication, emergency care, and transportation of the injured, following EMS guidelines. Do not delay rescue or transport of a seriously injured, contaminated patient.

  5. Communications: Notify hospital of possible contamination/exposure of victim.

  6. Establish a control zone.
    • Reroute traffic.
    • Mark controlled area by use of ropes or tapes.
    • Limit entry to rescue personnel only.
    • Order evacuation or sheltering as needed.

  7. Prevent/fight fires as if toxic chemicals are involved.

  8. Ensure contamination control.
    • Do not allow eating, drinking, smoking, or other activities within contaminated areas that might lead to intake of chemical.
    • Avoid direct contact with materials where possible. Utilize protective clothing and anything available for remote handling (shovels, branches, ropes, etc.).
    • Limit time near chemicals to the minimum necessary. Rotate staff as necessary.
    • Evacuate personnel from the immediate downwind area. Detain personnel who were in the accident area until they can be decontaminated (link to DECON page).
    • Wrap, label, and isolate all clothing, tools, etc., used in the controlled area and retain them until they can be decontaminated.
    • Determine if measures are needed to contain all accident debris in the control zone until cleanup is achieved. Prevent unnecessary handling of incident debris.

  9. Documentation
    • Record the names and addresses of all persons involved (including those who insist on leaving the area), rescuers, those removed for medical attention, and ambulance personnel.
    • Make detailed records of the incident.

  10. Remain calm.

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General Guidelines for Responding to a Fire

  1. Some materials may react with water or water vapor in air to form a hazardous vapor.
  2. Small Fires: use dry chemical, CO2, Halon, water spray, or regular foam.
    Large Fires: use water spray, fog, or regular foam.
  3. Move undamaged containers from fire area if you can do it without risk. Do not touch damaged containers.
  4. Cool any containers that are exposed to flames with water from the side until well after fire is out.
  5. Fight fire if toxic chemicals are involved, by keeping upwind and avoiding smoke, fumes, gases, and dusts.
  6. For massive fire in cargo area, use unmanned hose holder or monitor nozzles; if this is impossible, withdraw from area and let fire burn.
  7. Stay away from ends of tanks. Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from a venting safety device or if there is discoloration of tanks due to fire. Fight fires from maximum distance.
  8. As much as possible, form barrier to contain fire, water that may be contaminated with chemicals.

Use established fire-fighting procedures and protocols.

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General Guidelines for Responding to a Spill or Leak

  1. Shut off ignition sources; no flares, smoking, or flames in hazard area.
  2. Keep combustibles (wood, paper, oil, etc.) away from spilled material.
  3. Do not touch spilled material. Do not touch damaged containers or move anything, except to rescue people.
  4. Detour pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
  5. Detain anyone who has been in the area of the spill or area of suspected contamination (except for victims requiring emergency medical care).
  6. Delay cleanup until the authorities arrive.
  7. Minimize dispersal of material (by wind, rain, etc.) by covering with a tarp, plastic sheet, etc. Tie down or use weights as necessary.
  8. If a right-of-way must be cleared before emergency assistance arrives, move vehicles and debris the shortest distance required to open a pathway. Then, before permitting traffic to pass on the cleared path, spillage should be washed or wetted and swept to the edge with a minimum dispersal of wash water and spilled material.
  9. If experts are not able to get to the scene within a reasonable period of time because of weather or other constraints and prompt action is required, do the following:
    • Small Spills: Cover with sand or other noncombustible absorbent material and place into containers for later disposal.
    • Large Spills: Build a dike far ahead of the spill to contain spilled material for later disposal.

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Developing a Plan and Response Strategy (The Golden Rules)

Owners/managers of hazardous installations should:

  • know what risks exist at their hazardous installations;
  • promote a "safety culture," which is known and accepted throughout the enterprise;
  • implement a safety management system, which is regularly reviewed and updated;
  • prepare for any accident that might occur.

Workers at hazardous installations should:

  • make every effort to be informed and to provide feedback to management;
  • be proactive in helping to inform and educate the community.

Public authorities should:

  • provide leadership and motivate stakeholders to improve chemical accident prevention, preparedness and response;
  • develop, enforce and continuously improve regulations, policies, programs and practices;
  • help ensure that there is effective communication and co-operation among stakeholders.

The public should:

  • be aware of the risks in their community and what to do in the event of an accident;
  • co-operate with local authorities and industry in emergency planning and response.

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  1. Guidance on Developing Safety Performance Indicators related to Chemical Accident Prevention, Preparedness and Response. (OECD/Environment Directorate)
  2. Emergency Response Guidebook (2016 Emergency Response Guidebook: A Guidebook for First Responders During the Initial Phase of a Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials Incident, DOT, 2016)
  3. NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (HHS/CDC/NIOSH)

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