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Environmental Health & Safety

Occupational Safety Unit

Spill Protocol for High Level Disinfectants

High-level disinfectant (HLD) spills must be contained and cleaned up immediately after accidental release because they can cause a rapid increase of hazardous vapors. The following instructions are provided to assist staff in determining whether the spill can be safely cleaned up or whether a professional response team needs to be contacted.

Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) does have a trained University Spill Response Team for on-site locations, but response time may be 15 minutes or more. The EH&S Spill Response Team can be called for areas that can be easily evacuated, for spills exceeding 1/2 gallon or smaller spills where the spilled material has gone into spaces not easily accessible (i.e. under cabinets).

Some HLD areas should have a trained local department spill team for cleanup of spills of one HLD container or less (maximum 5L). This is highly recommended for patient care areas, areas that are not easily evacuated, areas with ventilation that recirculates air and is not vented directly outside, off-site areas, and areas performing HLD after normal business hours.

Personnel who may clean up small spills must be instructed on the safe use of high-level disinfectants. Training shall include the hazards of the disinfectant, the precautions to be observed when handling the disinfectant, access to safety data sheets, the availability and use of the needed personal protective equipment (PPE), and the limitations of the PPE. Several different types of HLDs are used at URMC; it is important to know the active ingredient and potential health effects of over-exposure for the HLD being used (See Appendix A). Annual training must be completed on MyPath for local department HLD spill team members.

If an HLD spill is greater than one container (>5L), a trained Spill Response team should be notified.

Small Spill (one container or less, maximum 5L) Cleanup Protocol

The agent spilled, the quantity of the spill, the location of the spill, and the elapsed time of the spill to the final cleanup are all factors that will determine whether the trained user of the disinfectant can safely clean up the spill.

  • Drips and splashes of HLDs should be cleaned up immediately with a few paper towels while wearing nitrile gloves. Paper towels should be rinsed in a sink to minimize odors and reduce fire hazard prior to putting them in the regular trash.
  • Areas using Trophon Sonex cartidges (80ml) are not required to have a spill kit since the risk of spill is very low and a leak would result in drips and splashes only.
  • Small spills (<5L) may be cleaned up by a trained local department spill team.

PPE for spills up to one HLD container (max 5L):
Stock PPE for at least two people

  • Safety goggles
  • Disposable N95 respirator with Nuisance Organic Vapor Relief (3M 8247 or equivalent)
  • Nitrile or butyl rubber gloves
  • Shoe covers
  • Impervious apron or gown

Equipment needed:

  • Spill absorbant pads (i.e. pink PIG™ brand)
  • Absorbent sock (i.e. PIG™ brand)
  • 5-gallon bucket with tight-fitting lid
  • Leak-proof disposable bags


  1. Evacuate the area if possible, or at a minimum, restrict pedestrian traffic from area of spill
  2. Get spill kit and don the PPE required
  3. Bring bucket with spill cleanup equipment to spill area
    • Place absorbent pads on spill area, start at outside of spill and work towards the center
    • If needed, place spill sock around edges of spill or around floor drain
    • Remove any remaining items from bucket and line bucket with disposable bag
    • Place soaked absorbent pads into the bag
    • Continue using absorbent pads as needed
    • Seal bag and put lid on bucket
  4. Rinse spill are with water and then wipe up with paper towels
    • If needed, mop with clean water
    • Put up "Caution: Slippery When Wet" sign until floor dries
  5. Place contaminated disposable PPE in separate bag, place in bucket and replace lid tightly
    • Uncontaminated disposable PPE can go in regular trash
    • Wipe outer lid with wet paper towel to remove any residual chemical contamination
  6. Contact EH&S Environmental Compliance/Hazardous Waste Unit at 275-2056 for hazardous waste pickup
  7. Complete Spill Report - Blank Spill Report
  8. Restock spill kit contents (order information available on Infection Prevention HLD toolkit)

NOTE: During the cleanup, should you experience irritation, dizziness or drowsiness you believe may be from cleaning up the spill, leave the immediate area and notify your supervisor.

Large Spill Cleanup Protocol

Personnel discovering a spill of more than one container (>5L) should evacuate the immediate location, keep other people from entering the location, and call the appropriate emergency number:

  • For off-sites, during normal workhours (M-F, 8am-5pm) call Environmental Health & Safety at 585-275-3241. After hours and weekends, call Public Safety at 585-275-3333 to dispatch EH&S team.
  • For locations at SMH, WCC or ACF, call Public Safety (ext. 13) for an EH&S Spill Team response. When emergency responders arrive, provide factual information concerning the spill (the agent spilled, the estimated quantity, where the spill occurred and a Safety Data Sheet).

Contact EH&S at (585) 275-3241 or e-mail EH&S Questions.

This page last updated 11/30/2020. Disclaimer.