Spillages occur from a variety of causes. In considering various aspects of spills, it is necessary to distinguish between minor incidents, which may occur in a laboratory or workshop handling isocyanates regularly, and major spills, involving, for example, a railcar, storage tank, or bulk road tanker. The most important factor for handling the situation is ability of personnel on the spot to deal with occurrence rather than actual scale of incident.
All spillages of isocyanates, even the smallest, and especially those where monomeric diisocyanates are involved, must be attended to immediately since there is a risk of overexposure of those nearby.
A number of factors will affect the extent of hazard associated with a spill: amount spilled, volatility and flammability of material, temperature of material and location of spill.
A minor spill can be dealt with using personnel at the facility; a major spill is one that necessitates summoning outside assistance (e.g., the supplier, police or fire service).
In preparation for accidental spills, it is advisable to have a written procedure for dealing with such an emergency. It is a definite advantage to have a trained emergency squad, which can be part of the fire team.
In any spill control procedure, the overriding principle must be to protect people first, then prevent or minimize any environmental releases and, finally, to protect property and product.