How to Prepare for a Hazardous Materials Inspection
A hazardous materials audit doesn't need to be scary. In fact, an audit can ensure that not only your hazardous material storage buildings are safe and up to code - it will also offer assurance to your employees, which can boost morale and productivity. Moreover, it will help reduce lawsuits and other noncompliance fines.
However, before your inspection commences you want to make sure that you are completely prepared. If you aren't prepared and you miss something, not only could you incur fines but you could also risk having one of your facilities shut down, which will cut into your bottom line and put a bottleneck on operations. Fortunately, though, with a basic guideline and some preparation tips, your storage facilities will be ready for a full audit. Here is how to prepare for a hazardous materials inspection.
Label all of your containers with Detailed Notes
When an audit of your hazardous material storage buildings occurs, you don't want to risk getting docked for not properly labeling your containers. Indeed, your containers need to be labeled with the name of the chemical, the chemical number, the manufacturer and any other pertinent information. If you simply put a chemical name on the label with no other information, you may get fined for improper labeling.
Only Fill Waste Containers with Waste Products
When you use a chemical or when a chemical has been spent, you want to label the container as waste, or else it will be hard to differentiate between the active chemicals and non-active chemicals. Indeed, your chemicals that are waste should be labeled with the simple word "used," which means that the chemical is currently in use. The only exception to this is with oil. Spent oil must be labeled as "waste oil." This can be confusing, but it is important that you have these waste laws down, or else your facility could get in trouble with regulators.
Confirm All Labels are Fresh and Readable
Ideally, you don't want to have any labels that are peeling or that are unreadable. If you have any old containers in your hazardous material storage buildings, you want to make sure that they are re-labeled - it's as simple as that. Before relabeling, though, make sure that you know exactly what is in the containers. If you aren't sure, you don't want to guess, especially if the chemicals are for waste.
If there really is no way of knowing and the containers are just too old, you may want to contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office, or EHSO, to complete a test. If you discard unlabeled waste, you could not only get in trouble - you could cause a devastating chemical reaction or leak.
Clean Up Any Slick or Chemical Spills
This should go without saying, but the last thing you want during an audit of your hazardous material storage buildings is a chemical spill. Before the inspection, make sure that your floor employees properly clean any prior spills – chemical or otherwise. Not only can a spill be dangerous to the presentation of your business, it can also be dangerous for your employees. Chemical spills and slicks have known to cause forklift crashes and other injuries. If a forklift is carrying other chemical containers, you could cause a bigger spill. The last thing you want is to cause a chain reaction.
Clearly Label Your Mixtures
If you have chemical mixtures, then you want to have the proper fraction labeled on the containers. You should know exactly if a container is 40% a certain chemical and then 60% a solvent. If you don't properly label the fractions, you could get points taken off during the audit, which could land you in hot water. Also, you don't want to guess, because if the fractions are wrong, or off, you could get a serious fine as this is considered the equivalent of misleading safety inspectors.
Close All Containers Not in Use
Not only do you want to make sure that all the containers closed, you want to make sure that they are sealed, too. Moreover, you don't want there to any funnels left in the open lid. In the end, the only containers that are allowed to be open are the ones you are actually using in that moment.