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Last edited 25 Jan 2021
Business HAZMAT plans
When it comes to waste management, having a disposal plan in place is imperative. Hazardous waste is heavily regulated and cannot just be thrown away. To know if you're handling potentially dangerous waste, the first step is to assess its characteristics.
Look out for these four characteristics:
- Ignitability: Something flammable.
- Corrosivity: Something that can rust or decompose.
- Reactivity: Something explosive.
- Toxicity: Something poisonous.
There are three types of ignitable forms:
- Liquids with a flashpoint (the lowest temperature at which fumes above waste ignite) of 60 degrees Celsius. Examples include alcohol, gasoline, and acetone.
- Solids that spontaneously combust.
- Oxidizers and compressed gasses.
To find out if a substance is corrosive you can check its pH; if this is less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5, or the liquid has the ability to corrode steel, than it is corrosive. Everyday examples of corrosives include battery acid and rust removers.
- A material that is unstable, and routinely experiences violent change without detonating.
- A material that shows potential for explosive mixture or violent reaction when combined with water.
- Materials that can react producing toxic gasses which are released into the atmosphere when mixed with water.
Poisonous materials pose a great threat to our environment, and can have long-term effects on human health. Acute toxicity involves harmful effects in an organism through a single or short-term exposure.
Common types of toxic substances are fertilizer, raw sewage, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, asbestos, ground-level ozone, lead (from aircraft fuel, mining, and industrial processes).
Within an organisation, a plan is needed to inform and provide guidance to its employees about best practices and laws that regulate the disposal of dangerous waste. The plan also defines roles and responsibilities and provides the framework for action in case of emergency so that any risks of contamination can be contained.
These are the phases that the plan should include:
- Hazardous waste generation.
- Hazardous waste accumulation.
- Hazardous waste transportation.
- Hazardous waste treatment (recycling, treatment, disposal).
For the plan to be effective, each process or department that produces the waste must have at least one person attend proper training conducted by a hazardous waste coordinator. Attendees will then be responsible for their departments' compliance with the Hazardous Waste Management Plan. The hazardous waste coordinator will determine when it is necessary to have follow-up training.
Entities that generate waste are the first link in the hazardous waste management system. All generators must determine if their waste is hazardous and must oversee the disposal of the waste. Generators must ensure and fully document that the hazardous waste they produce is properly identified, managed, and treated prior to recycling or disposal.
Every area that produces dangerous waste must have a satellite accumulation site. A satellite accumulation area is a safe location that has a sign indicating that it is an area for accumulating hazardous waste. The area must be used only as a collection place for hazardous materials until they are removed to the main hazardous waste storage area. It must be at or near the point where the hazardous waste is generated and be easily controlled and easily visually inspected. This area should have good ventilation and, where possible, secondary containment in the event that the primary container leaks.
Once a container is full, it must be moved to the main waste storage area by a trained coordinator. This main storage area must be inspected regularly and the conditions need to be reported on a form kept in the appropriate storage area.
It can be a good idea to call a professional disposal service to take care of unwanted hazardous waste. They can provide tips and guidelines on how to handle your waste properly and how to store it so as to minimise risks when the waste has to be moved and disposed of.
When involving a professional, the first step should be to identify exactly what waste stream is being dealt with. If in doubt, a specialist can guide you through this with the use of COSHH safety data sheets and by verifying what the material was used for. This is important as the ever-tightening legislation brought in to govern disposal means we have to be sure the waste is handled safely and correctly. Although usually not necessary, it is possible to arrange for samples to be taken and analysed to help further.
Many wastes can be recycled safely and effectively, while other wastes will be treated and disposed of in landfills or incinerators. Recycling has a variety of benefits including reducing the consumption of raw materials and the volume of waste materials that must be treated and disposed. However, improper storage of those materials might cause spills, leaks, fires, and contamination of soil and water. To encourage hazardous waste recycling while protecting health and the environment it can be necessary to ask for professional help.
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