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Spill Kit Colours Explained: Contents, Absorbent Pads & Bins


People often ask questions like “What colour are chemical spill kits?”, “What colour are oil spill kits?” & “Why are these absorbent pads yellow?”. Unfortunately, the answer is more complicated than most would like.

There are really two questions that need to be considered to answer this properly:

  1. What colours are spill kit contents?

The colour of the contents of a spill kit vary depending on the kit’s application. While, there is not a standard that governs what colour a type of absorbent needs to be, there is some degree of consistency. The colour of an absorbent will not definitively identify the type of liquid that it is for however, below is a very generic and general indication:

  • General Purpose Absorbents are usually grey.

  • Oil Only Absorbents are usually white.

  • Chemical Absorbents are often Yellow or green or are sometimes pink.

  1. What colours are spill kit bins/kit outers?

There is no Australian standard that dictates the colour of the wheelie bins or receptacles that your spill kit comes in. As a result, there is a wide amount of variation in the colour of bins used for different types of kits across suppliers and some companies to have different coloured bins for different types of spill kits while others use a uniform colour across the different spill kit types.

Additionally, a lot of large sites have their own colouring convention which is self-imposed and has nothing to do with the source of supply.

When you then consider that it is very common for sites to change suppliers and keep their existing bins or re-label Spill Kit bins for a different kit type it becomes very clear that trusting a colour convention while identifying a Spill Kit is fraught with danger.

For this reason the only reliable way to identify the type of spill kit is by referring to the labelling. Under AS 1319-1994, all spill kits must be labelled with “spill kit” and their application eg General Purpose, Oil Only or Chemical. In short, if a spill kit is not labelled in a way that identifies its type then it is non-compliant.

In summary, the colour of your absorbents can only give you some idea of what you’re dealing with and spill kit bin colours are misleading so always check the kit labelling!