Are you using the correct spill kit?29 July 2021

Spill kits are essential when dealing with workplace spills and leaks, particularly those involving dangerous substances and contaminants, but workers need to make sure they are using the right spill kit for the job. First Mats talks through the main types

If you keep bulk liquids such as oil, fuel and chemicals on site, you will need to have appropriate spill kits ready to handle workplace accidents. This is sometimes mandated by professional bodies, ISO guidelines, the HSE’s COSHH regulations, or can simply be considered good health and safety practice for your business. Make sure you’re aware of the different spill kits so you can have the correct supplies at hand to deal with any eventually safely and efficiently.

Oil Spill Kits

These are one of the most well known and most common spill kits. Most, if not all, industrial workplaces will have some type of oil on hand including hydraulic oil, engine oil, lubricating oil, as well as fuels and other hydrocarbons.

These kits contain white-coloured absorbents that are made from hydrophobic materials which reject water. This means the materials will only absorb oil and other hydrocarbons. This is a great benefit because it means the spill kit can effectively mop up a large amount of oil or fuel in one go, without becoming saturated with water; they are great for use outside.

Universal Spill Kits

These spill kits can be used on almost all substances including solvents, coolants, and mild chemicals. They can also be used on oils and fuels, but bear in mind they may not be as effective as specially-designed oil spill kits. They can be identified by their grey colour.

Chemical Spill Kits

These types of spill kits are absolutely vital to have on hand if you work in an area where lots of chemicals, including acids and alkalis, are handled daily. Chemical spillages are generally the most hazardous to staff, as well as equipment and flooring.

Chemical spill products are yellow in colour for easy identification. Each individual kit will have a label stating the types of chemicals it is compatible with. These kits should include absorbent pads, absorbent socks, and disposable bags that can help you to deal with dangerous spillages quickly and efficiently. It is important to note the chemicals spill kits are suitable for use on various chemicals, oils, and fuels, but not oxidising agents (such as hydrogen peroxide) or water.

AdBlue Spill Kits

A new and more modern type of spill kit, AdBlue spill kits are effective at mopping up diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) spillages. If diesel exhaust fluid is leaking or spilling, it can cause catastrophic effects on the environment as these solutions are very harmful and polluting to both surface and groundwater - especially if they enter drains.

Available in a clearly-recognisable blue kit with dark coloured absorbent materials, AdBlue spill kits come with general-purpose socks, general-purpose double-weight pads, as well as disposal bags and ties to effectively deal with harmful spills.

Sizing spill kits

When determining the size of spill kit that you need, there are several factors which need to be taken into consideration:

  • What is the largest amount of liquid that could be spilled at this location?
  • Are there any drains in the area of the potential spill?
  • What is the worst-case scenario?

Unfortunately, there are no set rules when it comes to choosing the correct spill kit size. Spill kits range in sizes from 10 litres up to 800 litres. They are packed in either a wheelie bin or bag, depending on how much kit they need to house.

We recommend ensuring that you have enough absorbent materials to soak up around half of all of the liquid you have in storage. This way you can be prepared for a spill of any size.


Having multiple, smaller spill kits in various locations on site (near to where oils and liquids are stored) is much better than having one large kit stored in a single location.

This is helpful because in the event of a spill, you can ensure yourself or any staff working will have access to a spill kit nearby to control the leak.

If only one spill kit is available on the premises, then by the time anyone gets to it the spill in the event of an emergency, it may be too large to effectively clean up, which creates a large health and safety risk.

First Mats

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