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Safety, August 28, 2012

What to do when you smell a chemical spill

You are just finishing up some work in a branch circuit panel when a strong chemical smell hits. What should you do? A strong smell means there's some kind of leak or spill. Any time there's a leak or a spill, leave the area immediately.


  • Wait to see if it gets worse; your ability to smell it will weaken with time.
  • Put things away; time might run out before you're done.
  • Try to locate the source of the smell. Maybe there's a valve you can close, but how do you know you won’t be overcome by fumes before you get there?

The logic of airline safety announcements applies here. Help yourself first so that you can help others. That means leave. On your way out, warn others that there's a spill and they need to leave the area — but don't stop walking while you're talking.

After you reach safety, report the problem to the first supervisor you can find. Then report to your own supervisor.

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