Potential Spills and Available Controls
Drums may be the most common type of container used for transferring
materials at deployment sites. What usually comes to mind is the 55-gallon
metal drum. This drum has two types.
- Open-top, where the full lid is removable, used for solids.
- Closed-top, where the only access is through a smaller capped hole
known as a bung. This drum usually holds liquids.
There are other types of drums, for example:
- "Fiber" drums may be made of plastic or a cardboard-like
- Metal 5-gallon pails may have removable lids.
Metal and fiber drums come in many sizes. Other containers such as totes
may be used at deployment sites. The spill response kits and control
areas will be expanded to accommodate the larger amount of material.
The hazardous materials used during a deployment are many and varied.
Oils, disinfectants, pesticides and acids are a few examples of the materials
used. The labeling on the drum or container will be the most readily
available source of information on the chemical. The MSDS for the material
is also to be consulted for safe handling information, for specific spill
requirements and storage/use incompatibilities.
Safe drum handling
Handling the drums in a safe manner will help prevent a number of spills.
Inspection of Drums
Integrity checks at several points in the life cycle of a drum are crucial
to ensuring personal safety, environmental protection, and regulatory
compliance. Prior to moving or handling any drum that has material
in them, or that are about be used to hold materials (whether the drum
is new or used), the person responsible for handling or transportation
must perform an external drum integrity inspection. An example Inspection
checklist is provided in Appendix
12- A (pdf).
Securing the Drum Lid to the Drum
Once the initial inspection has been completed, the drum is holding
material and will not be used for the up coming time, the lid must be
secured by filler. This is a relatively simple, but often shortchanged,
procedure that must be performed in its entirety for every drum, without
fail. Match the lid to the drum. Lids vary from
manufacturer to manufacturer and with the size and type of drum. They
are not interchangeable. Make sure that the lid selected properly
fits the drum.
- Inspect the lid gasket to assure that it is in good condition and
is properly installed. Good condition means no cracks, no breakage,
and that the gasket is firmly attached to the lid.
- Place the lid onto the drum and press it down so that the curved
lip of the lid covers the top chime (top edge of the drum) of the drum. Position
the latching lever so that it is on the top of the ring after it is
installed on the drum.
- The lugs of the bolt-ring must be pointed down below the ring. Ensure
the bottom edge of the ring engages the top lip of the drum.
- Insert the bolt through the lug without threads. Next, screw
on the locking nut; then screw the bolt into the threaded lug.
- If available, use a non-sparking ratchet wrench. If not, use any
available wrench to torque the bolt. While tightening the bolt, tap
the entire perimeter of the ring with a rubber mallet, starting directly
across from the bolt. Tighten the bolt. The lid and ring should
not spin, but the free ends of the ring should not touch.
- Tighten the locking nut against the lug without threads. This
prevents the bolt from backing out of the closing ring.
Pull the latching lever fully closed and hook it under the latch. After
the bolt is securely tightened, inspect the ring to be sure that it fully
encompasses the rolled edge of the drum lid and engages beneath the lip
of the drum (chime).
Safe Operation of Drum Dollies
If a drum dolly or stair climber are available, they should be used
for moving drums. The operation of the dolly and stairclimber are simple:
- Break (tilt) the drum away from your body slightly and slide the
drum truck under the drum.
- When the drum is in position (the upright portion of the drum truck
contact with the drum), slide the safety clamp into place over the near
chime. If available, place the safety strap over the drum to further
secure the drum to the drum truck.
- Keep the center of gravity of the load as low as possible. Let
the truck carry the load; the operator should only control the balance
and direction of the load.
- Drum dollies should be pushed rather than pulled.
- Operate the drum truck at a safe speed. Do not run. Keep
the drum truck under control.
- Make sure the path of travel is clear of all obstacles and debris.
- The three most common operational hazards are:
- Running wheels off bridge plates or platforms;
- Colliding with other drum dollies or obstructions; and Jamming
hands between the drum truck and other objects.
NOTE: Only one drum may be loaded on the truck
at a time—no double stacking
If the dolly or stairclimber is used to ascend or descend stair, the
following precautions should be followed:
- Break the drum away from your body slightly and slide the stairclimber
under the drum.
- Slide the safety clamp over the top chime. Also, if available, secure
the restraining strap to properly secure the drum to the stairclimber.
- To begin climbing stairs, tilt the stairclimber backwards until the
rotating treads in the middle of the stairclimber are resting against
the top edge of the first step.
- Gradually pull the stairclimber up
the step, letting the treads help assist in “walking/lifting” the
stairclimber along the top edges of the steps to the next level.
this process until you have reached the top of the stairs.
- Tilt the stairclimber backwards and proceed down the stairs with
the rotating treads assisting in “walking” the stairclimber
down along the top edge of the steps, while maintaining gradual resistance
on the stairclimber. Let gravity assist in lowering the stairclimber
down the steps.
Continue this process until you have reached the bottom of the steps.
NOTE: Make sure the stairs are clear of any
obstacles and debris prior to ascending or descending.
Wherever spills, leaks, or ruptures can occur, the site must keep suitable
quantities of proper absorbent and US Department of Transportation-specified
salvage drums/containers (see Appendix
12-B (pdf) for suggestions on spill
clean-up kits). Their location will be noted on the sample form included
12-C (pdf). In addition, all areas where materials are transferred
to and from containers will be arranged to minimize the likelihood of spills
and to keep the amount spilled to a minimum.
Guidelines for safe material/container movement include:
- Always use a drum truck when it is available.
- Make sure the pathway is clear of obstructions.
- Check the drum for burrs or loose metal.
- Check pallets for splintering.
- If the drum is too heavy, get help.
- Use care when manipulating drums that are in tight clusters.
- Make sure bungs or other openings are tightly sealed.
- Do not cross feet or hands when rolling drums (both hands should
be on the drum at all time.
- Extreme caution should be used with drums that are not intact or
- Overpacks and other spill response materials should be readily available.
Methods for controlling hazards during storage include:
- Keep incompatible chemicals segregated from each other.
- Keep flammables and combustibles away from heat sources by distance
or special barriers.
- Maintain adequate ventilation.
- In all staging areas, drums should be staged two wide in two rows.
- The rows should be spaced seven to eight feet apart.
- Spacing should enable movement of drum handling equipment.
- Inspections should be made of containers to recognize problems before
they get worse.