Techniques to Safely Transfer Hazardous Materials

There are some times in life and in business when you don't just want to "wing it."

Meeting a high standard for safety when transferring hazardous materials is vital.

There are some times in life and in business when you don't just want to "wing it." One of those times would definitely be when transferring hazardous materials. Whether you are moving pesticides, gasoline, or chemical wastes, meeting a high standard for safety when transferring hazardous materials from one place to another is important. It is important for environmental reasons, financial reasons, legal reasons, and not the least of which--health and safety. If you're not an expert on the subject and need to know some of the basics, here is a brief overview of some important techniques for safely transferring hazardous materials.


Different Materials and Regulations

There are all sorts of different kinds of hazardous materials, including pesticides, fuels, flammable liquids, flammable and high pressure gases, explosives (any chemical compound mixture that is designed to explode when properly functioning), small arms ammunitions, blasting agents, compressed gases, combustible liquids, and flammable solids. A comprehensive understanding of how to handle any and all of these items in different kinds of transporting circumstances could easily fill a course, so we can't give you all of the details here.


Nevertheless, we can give you some examples for overall perspective. To begin with, transferring and transporting hazardous materials is always to be done in accordance with whatever relevant regulatory and governmental mechanisms are meant to ensure you accomplish your task in the safest possible way. There are legal repercussions as well as safety risks in flouting these requirements, so its best to always be above board when working with these materials.


For instance, when repackaging pesticides and moving them from site to site, each repackaging location must be registered with the EPA under a specific EPA establishment number. In certain states, retail gas services need an air pollution permit from the state EPA in order transfer fuel from site to customer vehicle. Regulations will vary, depending on where you happen to be and what hazardous materials you happen to be working with. So stay abreast of the rules and requirements you have to follow to be allowed to continue operating by the relevant government bodies.



Tip for Different Materials

You can fill a portable gas can with a drum funnel and carry it. But in the case of gas and other flammable (or combustible) liquids, it is important to make sure that heat exposure does not trigger a flammable reaction, as well as preventing puncturing from careless handling or the usage of too old or brittle a container to allow for spillage which can present a dangerous situation. Approved gas cans are always red and marked to signify their intended purpose.


It should also be mentioned that there should be a certain caution exercised when transferring flammable liquids between containers. Normally, you would want to bond and ground containers when transferring such liquids between one another because you want to avoid the risk of any charge passing between them igniting the fluid. It might seem like this is unnecessary if you are using a conducive container, say a plastic drum, to receive the liquid. Plastic isn't going to provide a current to electricity, but even then it is always possible to excite static electricity when two non-conducive containers pass by one another. Minimizing the risk of electrical ignition by grounding containers is always a good rule of thumb when transferring flammable liquids such as ether, acetone, alcohol, or gasoline.


Biological waste and other materials that are usually transferred and disposed of in medical facilities, as with all hazardous materials, have to be handled in a careful way. Such materials are virtually never transported by hand without personnel wearing gloves or facial masks. Blood tends to be packaged in air tight plastic containers, as is often the case with other biological agents.


In almost all cases, hazardous materials should never be transferred or transported in personal vehicles, or at least, it is very risky to do so. Specialized vehicles are often employed for these purposes, depending on the particular scenario. Consult the relevant agency or manufacturer support for more information on proper vehicles for transport. Part of this has to do with temperature management. Excessive heat or cold is frequently a risk in transferring hazardous materials, both in terms of maintaining the integrity of the container as well as preserving the substance and preventing volatile reactions.


It's always important to seek out specific information from manufacturers and regulatory authorities when working with dangerous substances. Remember, knowledge just might spare you a world of grief...but only if you have it.