Avoiding the Temptation to Clean Up Environmental Hazards as Soon as Possible
A significant, if not the main, purpose of providing health and safety training to workers and putting into place stringent control measures and procedures, is to prevent an accident or incident from taking place. If one were to occur, it can put the health, safety and wellbeing of both people and other living organisms in danger, with the potential for illness, injury and possibly death depending upon the severity of the incident and the substances involved. Of course, even with all the health and safety courses available and taking all necessary precautions under the sun, there will always exist a possibility, however slight, that an accident will happen.
Where environmental hazards are concerned, accidental spillages or similar can cause major devastation to the affected habitat, plant life and aquatic creatures. A spillage of substances such as oil for instance can cause significant loss of life for all creatures living in the water or relying upon it for feeding.
Whatever the substances which have been accidentally released, a company's first thoughts should be to shut off the source of the release to ensure that no more escapes and contributes further to the problem, and to notify appropriate groups such as environmental agencies and the emergency services.
The Danger of Rushing to Clean-Up
A natural reaction may also be to attempt to clean up the affected area straight away, particularly when the damage being done can easily be seen and a company wishes to rectify its mistake. However, this can sometimes create an additional problem by placing those employees who are given the task of cleaning it up at risk in terms of a danger to their own health and safety. The reason for this is that if a substance is hazardous to the environment then there is a high probability that it is also harmful to people too, and so any contact with it can endanger the health and wellbeing of a person.
For certain hazardous substances, clean-up needs to be conducted by specially trained personnel who have the correct protective clothing and equipment for the task. Without it, a person faces a lot of risk to their own personal health and safety, and should at least wait until the hazard has been thoroughly assessed before attempting any sort of clean up, assuming that they can indeed clean it up, as there may be a need to leave it for the specialists or professionals.
Conclusion - Don't Put Yourself or Others in Danger
Whilst there may be the urge to clean up the mess as soon as possible, just as first aiders are taught, placing yourself or additional people at risk is not the recommended route to follow. Too much haste to try and help could end up making the situation worse by putting more lives in danger.