9 Best Practices For Handling Hazardous Materials
- 30 Jul 2021
Manufacturing industries commonly require materials and substances that are often hazardous in large amounts and concentrated forms. Ideally, when companies have to handle hazardous materials, they’ll have to comply with certain standards and regulations for safety.
If you have a business that regularly handles potentially hazardous materials, establishing proper safety procedures should be a priority. Here are the best practices you should maintain to ensure safety for everyone in your business:
1. Wear Proper Protective Gear
The most important thing to consider first, before you even go anywhere near those hazardous materials, is to always wear the right protective gear. This may include using close-toed shoes, protective gloves, and goggles. Such precautions may seem minor, but they’ll lessen the risk of cuts, burns, and other injuries.
Other hazardous materials may also require you to have additional protective equipment, such as nose plugs, laboratory gowns, and face masks.
2. Identify The Potential Hazards And Build A Plan
Before you look for solutions like contracting a UN certified bag supplier to handle your hazardous materials, you should first consider the actual hazard risks of the materials in question and create a plan.
If possible, have procedures and arrangements in place to manage emergencies that may arise from accidental exposures or spills. These may include a systematic clean-up, a quick evacuation, or a containment procedure. Also, make sure that your emergency equipment like shower stations and extinguishers are accessible, tested routinely, and kept clean.
3. Understand The Hazardous Materials You Have
To be able to handle any hazardous material safely and efficiently, you need to understand the material first. If it’s a chemical, find out if it's corrosive or if inhaling it is dangerous. If it’s reactive, find out the other chemicals that cannot be mixed with it.
Most hazardous materials will come with recommended handling instructions, especially if you purchased them from a reliable supplier. Read the labels before using any hazardous material to learn about its precautions and potential hazards that you must avoid. Make sure to only use the materials for their intended purpose.
In the same way, make sure to also learn about the proper methods of containing the hazardous materials you have in cases of accidents.
4. Attach Detailed Labels
Every hazardous material should be properly labelled especially before storing them. Each label should be clear and detailed enough to avoid misconceptions and misunderstandings that may lead to misuse and accidents.
Your labelling methods should be consistent across all your materials, and should also include important dates, such as the dates for acquisition, inspection, and expiration.
5. Prepare A Containment System
A containment system plays a crucial role in handling and managing hazardous materials as it helps to prevent dangerous spills or leaks.
Typically, a good containment system must have the capacity to contain at least 10% of your containers’ total volume or the volume of your biggest container. They should also be made of compatible materials to prevent any chemical reaction in the process.
6. Secure A Safe Storage
When storing hazardous materials, you need a designated secure space for storage that’s not accessible to any unauthorized personnel. Consider it as a hazard or danger zone and only allow access to trained, authorized employees. Different materials may require different storage conditions, so keep in mind to follow such instructions as well. Most materials will just require a cool, dry, and well-ventilated space.
In terms of containers, they should be weather-proofed, rust-resistant, and sealable. To make sure they’re always working as intended, conduct inspections on a regularly. Regular inspections will also help you identify small problems that may turn into potential liabilities. Using safety barriers may also come in handy. Place caution and warning signs around the areas of your hazardous materials.
It might also be worth emulating the way industry leaders are currently rethinking chemical storage for better safety in the light of the calamities in the past that have caused unfortunate mishaps.
7. Safeguard Flammable Materials
When dealing with chemicals that are both flammable and hazardous, it’s important to take steps to reduce the risk of spills, fire, or explosions. Such chemicals must be stored in closed containers and should be kept separate from ignition sources and flammable materials.
Your storage place for flammable chemicals must be properly ventilated to ensure that the vapours from spills or leaks are dispersed rapidly. It must also be constructed using fire-resistant and non-combustible materials.
8. Follow Proper Disposal Methods
Your responsibility for the hazardous materials in your care doesn’t end when you’re done using them. When it's time for disposal, there are precautions you must follow as well. Unlike most types of waste, hazardous materials can’t be disposed of in landfills. Ideally, their disposal should be left to professional waste management services to ensure further risks.
Waste management professionals are trained and experienced in handling hazardous waste materials safely. This is why the best way to ensure the proper disposal of your hazardous materials is to hire professional hazardous waste removal services in your area. Aside from keeping you and your employees safe, it’ll also help to protect the environment.
9. Train Your Employees
Once you have all your procedures in place, you’re ready to train your employees in the safe handling and management of the hazardous materials on your premises
A properly trained workforce is one of your best keys to a safe workplace when your business handles hazardous materials. Your training should include how and where the materials are stored, how to use protective equipment, and what every label means.
Basics that tend to be forgotten should also be included, like not drinking and eating when handling hazardous materials. Once your employees understand and know more, the safer your workplace will be.
Handling hazardous materials is risky, but such risks can be managed with simple precautions. Start by committing yourself to better understand what hazardous materials you’re dealing with, why proper storage is essential, and the appropriate conditions they require. If you need more secure solutions to handle hazardous materials, always ask for help from professionals to find out the best available options for your needs.