Spill Information

Minor spills do not necessarily need the assistance of EH&S. Laboratory and facility workers who have had the proper training and possess the appropriate equipment can safely and effectively handle the majority of biological, chemical, oil and other types of spills that occur in laboratories, dormitories, maintenance facilities and other university buildings. However, many spills must still be reported, such as any release of a substance to the environment. Contact EH&S for details regarding proper incident and spill reporting.

Make sure you are prepared to respond to an emergency. Have spill control materials, personal protective equipment and other emergency response equipment nearby. Get training in first aid and fire extinguisher use. Practice emergency communications, evacuation procedures and spill response. Post hazard information and contact names on the door to your lab to help emergency responders.


No matter how carefully one works, laboratory accidents occur and necessitate emergency response. Spills of biological materials are potentially hazardous not only to the individual, but also to coworkers and people in surrounding areas.

Procedures must be developed and implemented, and each laboratory using biohazardous materials must possess appropriate equipment and supplies to effectively address a spill and/or exposure incident. The content of the procedures, equipment and supplies will vary for each lab and should include basic elements, such as: written procedure(s) for lab personnel to follow; injury response; specific clean-up, decontamination, containment and disposal instructions; spill kit list of contents availability and instructions for use; reporting procedures for incidents, injuries and/or exposures; and a training plan for staff to learn the procedures.

Campus biological lab policies for emergency plans, spills, decontamination, waste disposal and incident reporting are described in the UW–Madison Researchers’ Biosafety Manual and the guidance documents all linked below.

Oil and Other Environmental Spills

Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans have been developed for bulk oil storage at UW–Madison. Spill response procedures for applicable facilities have been established in those plans. If an oil spill has been observed at a facility that is known to be covered by an SPCC plan, contact the Facility Emergency Coordinator to appropriately respond to the spill.

If you are not aware of an SPCC Plan, the proper clean up procedures, or are not trained in completing cleanup activities; the spill should be reported to EH&S.

Please see the Bulk Material Storage for additional information on the campus SPCC Program.