Hazardous waste materials come in many forms. And, the welfare of your family, neighbors, and coworkers could rely on your ability to properly identify and handle hazardous waste materials. Here are safe ways to approach and discard hazardous waste. It’s important for workers, managers, and citizens to do their duty in knowing what to do with hazardous materials.

Follow procedure

For workers, be sure to read all work related manuals and get familiar with proper safety protocols. For managers, you should train, test, and reassess all employees’ abilities to retain safety knowledge and exercise it on the job. Procedures take the intimidation factor out of handling hazardous waste materials. If proper regulations are posted, trained, and tested, no employee should be at risk or threaten the safety of others.

Have frequent alarms

Safety alarms help train employees for accidents. It’s impossible to avoid accidents yet you can always remain ready for when something does happen. Be sure your facility hosts frequent alarms so managers can observe whether employees follow proper procedure during an emergency. Any unsure employees or ‘weak links’ in the protocol must be addressed and corrected. Also, third parties should be hired to come in and observe the proficiency of your safety alarms and provide advice.

Don’t eat or drink

Never eat or drink while working and handling hazardous materials. Even the most diligent of people will not do a good enough job of keeping their hands clean or avoiding possible contamination.  Furthermore, some poisonous effects are not immediate. It may take several hours for a contaminated person to feel sick. Avoiding such a catastrophe is easy when you don’t bring food and drink around work areas.

Proper storage

The close of shifts or cleanup procedures are very important, yet some employees who are hurried to leave work may neglect to fulfill duties. Be sure all hazardous chemicals are properly stored in a temperature-controlled, dry area. There should be no threat of bad weather influencing the integrity of the storage area. For example, don’t store hazardous waste in flood-prone basements or in lockers that get very hot in summer months. While proper storage or the delivery and removal of materials is costly, it’s an absolute necessity in maintaining order and keeping people safe.

Clean space

Keeping a clean workplace is one of the safest habits to instill in employees. A clean work area and entire facility ensures no chemical reactions or contamination. In some cases, employees may use time as an excuse, stating that cleaning areas takes time away from production. That may be so, but managers should factor in cleaning when creating schedules and estimating production of men and machines. However, like safety checks, it’s up to managers to ensure employees commit to established standards.

Know waste

The EPA is methodical in its treatment of waste and categorizations of hazardous materials. For example, universal waste is pesticides, batteries, and mercury lamps. Also, the EPA is diligent in listing those who are responsible for waste, transporting, and disposing of it. To make things a bit more organized, there are also ‘federal’ types of universal waste. States can add items and label them as universal waste as they see fit. For example, New Jersey labels oil-based finishes as a hazardous waste material. It’s important for facility managers to be acquainted with laws on the state and federal level.

Waste minimization

Since proper waste handling and disposal is likely to cost money and man hours, it makes sense to find ways to minimize the waste produced by your facility. Such a reduction may require a walkthrough of the production, packaging, or cleaning process. Ironically, it may be beneficial to hire a consultant who can provide insight into how to minimize waste and save money in the long run. Your facility may benefit from clever packaging design.

Time limit

All hazardous material must be collected within a specified time limit. Generally, all hazardous waste must be collected within 90 days of its disposal. Also, up to 55 gallons of hazardous waste can be stored at the same facility until it must be collected and taken away. The disposal of containers used yet empty depends on the material that was put in it as well as the nature of associated procedures.

Professional labels

All waste bins must be properly labeled before use for easy organization. However, site managers must be wise in choosing a vendor that can produce labels that can withstand particular environments. For example, aside from the hazardous waste contained within, labels must withstand rust, extreme heat and cold, and salt corrosion.