Hazardous Materials & Chemical Spills

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is committed to protecting the environment and providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees. This section outlines Rensselaer’s contingency plan for emergency response and prevention procedures related to hazardous materials and hazardous wastes. The procedures described have been designed to minimize risks to public health, safety and the environment from major spills, explosions, fire, and the release of hazardous materials/wastes. The plan was designed in accordance with all Federal and State laws related to emergency preparedness and prevention of emergency events.

Any incident involving a spill/release of chemicals, mixtures of chemicals, chemical wastes, and solvent based cleaning solutions, fuel/oil, paint, or other toxic material is considered a hazardous materials incident and should be handled appropriately by Rensselaer personnel. If you observe an incident and question whether the material spilled/released is hazardous in nature, proceed to a safe location and contact the Office of Public Safety at (518) 276-6611

Emergency Hazard

Any individual who judges a potentially hazardous situation to exist may activate the fire alarm manually to initiate the building evacuation and automatically summon emergency response personnel.

The properties of a hazardous substance (toxicity, volatility, flammability, explosiveness, corrosiveness, etc.), as well as the specific circumstances of the release (quantity, confined space considerations, ventilation, etc.), and the level of training of the personnel involved, may result in a spill that requires emergency response. If any doubt exists on the part of the personnel who first became aware of the spill, the spill must be handled as an emergency in accordance with the requirements of this plan. Outside resources must be requested immediately by dialing (518) 276-6611 or extension 6611 or activating the evacuation alarm if evacuation of the building is deemed best.

Chemical Safety in Labs 

All individuals who work in campus labs should take special care not to store chemicals on workbenches, on the floor, or in any other areas in which the chemicals could be spilled or knocked over. Significant quantities of flammable, corrosive, and/or other hazardous chemicals should be stored in appropriate chemical storage cabinets. Avoid storing chemicals on high shelves, and be careful not to overload shelving units. Also, make sure to segregate incompatible chemicals and store them in a manner that would prevent chemical mixing (reaction) in the event of a spill or other emergency.

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