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Handling hazardous spills on the construction job site

July 5, 2016

Contractors' pollution liability is a concern at every construction site. Learn how you can reduce environmental pollution and the related liability and what to do if a contractor accidentally pollutes the environment.

Environmental Contractors Segment Lead, Commercial Markets - Construction

Steve Goebner is the Environmental Contractors Segment Lead for the Commercial Markets Customer... About this expert

hazmat clean up

There can be many hazards at a construction job site. One of the most critical risks is a spill hazard. Should a spill happen that involves hazardous chemicals or other dangerous wastes, there are strict local, state and federal environmental regulations that must be followed. In all cases, an emergency environmental clean-up is required.

Preventing hazardous spills on the job is a critical part of a company’s safety program. As part of this program, construction management teams are responsible for ensuring that federal and state environmental regulations are met on every construction project.

What are some spill-prevention measures that you should consider?

Every company should have a spill-prevention and contingency plan in place, including some basic spill-safety recommendations:

  • Use containers suitable for the material stored, especially if you are storing flammable liquids.
  • When appropriate, provide overfill prevention for your oil storage containers.
  • Establish a regular inspection schedule of hazardous containment and pipeline systems.
  • Require spill-safety training for all new employees and refresher courses for current staff.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides comprehensive guidelines for dealing with hazardous material, including safety, training and clean-up.

Dealing with an environmental clean-up

Should a hazardous spill occur on a job site that the company is unable to handle themselves, company personnel should identify contractors or other local personnel who can help remediate the situation. You should first check with your insurer to see if they have an Environmental Emergency Response program that can help expedite clean-up. Beyond clean-up, hazard spills may also require local, state and federal reporting, as well as coordination of insurance claims. It is important to work with a reputable team of spill specialists to limit environmental exposures.

Quick response to a spill can expedite pollution clean-up, reduce costs and help mitigate potential liability.

The information in this publication was compiled from sources believed to be reliable for informational purposes only. All information herein should serve as a guideline, which you can use to create your own policies and procedures. Any and all information contained herein is not intended to constitute advice (particularly not legal advice). Accordingly, persons requiring advice should consult with independent advisers when developing programs and policies. We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information or any results and further assume no liability in connection with the publication and sample policies and procedures, including any information, methods or safety suggestions contained herein. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any of this information, whether to reflect new information, future developments, events or circumstances or otherwise. The subject matter of this publication is not tied to any specific insurance product nor will adopting these policies and procedures ensure coverage under any insurance policy. Risk engineering services are provided by The Zurich Services Corporation.

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