What do you need on your safety checklist?

What do you need on your safety checklist

Create a safety checklist that details proper handling and disposal of dangerous substances.

Businesses may have any number of policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety of employees and the public.  When it comes to dealing with hazardous chemicals or chemical waste, however, you might have to take extreme measures.

Your best bet to meet all legal, ethical, and operational requirements is to create a safety checklist that details proper handling and disposal of dangerous substances.  Here are just a few important items to include on your checklist.

Legal Requirements

Any time you're dealing with hazardous chemicals or chemical waste as part of your business you'll find that you're beholden to guidelines concerning the safe handling of these materials.  Such laws are created and enforced by governmental agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), just for example.

You may also have to follow other federal or state laws concerning proper handling and disposal of chemicals depending on your particular industry.  For example, there are special rules regarding the disposal of medical waste.  It's crucial to understand and follow these laws for the safety of your employees and the public.

Proper Storage

Any business that deals with hazardous chemicals or waste needs to maintain proper storage.  Here are a few factors to consider.

  • Containers

There are storage containers, cabinets, shelving units, platforms, and other products made specifically for hazardous waste storage.  The proper products and equipment can ensure the highest level of safety whenever you're handling, moving, or storing chemicals or waste prior to disposal.

  • Temperature/Humidity

Many chemical substances can be affected by environmental factors like temperature and humidity, which means you may have to control these elements in order to maintain safe storage.  You could, for example, place storage containers in a room with independent temperature and humidity controls.

Just don't forget about proper ventilation.  Any time you store hazardous chemicals there is a risk of leakage or fumes, both of which can pose health risks and other potential dangers, especially when stored in airtight rooms.  Fire safety features (sprinklers) may also be required.

Contact with Other Substances

Generally speaking, it is not considered safe or legal to store multiple waste substances, especially chemicals, in the same container because of the potential for dangerous chemical reactions.  If you're disposing of chemical or other waste byproducts of your business operations, you need to store them in separate containers for safety.

Security

Regardless of what you use chemicals for, there's always a chance they could be used improperly if a third party manages to obtain them.  You therefore need to restrict access to chemicals or chemical waste within your facility and install proper security features to stop potential theft.

Safe Handling

Training is an essential portion of any safety regimen, especially when it concerns the proper storage, handling, and disposal of hazardous chemicals or waste.  Any checklist should include not only the development of policies and procedures in keeping with OSHA, EPA, and other guidelines, but also appropriate training for any and all employees that come in contact with or handle chemicals.

You may even want to want to set up practice drills to ensure that your training has had the intended effect and that employees are well aware of how to behave in emergency situations.  Having safety measures, policies, and procedures in place is a good start, but don't forget to implement employee training, as well.

Quantity

There are rules regarding quantities of hazardous waste that may be stored in a given facility, as well as how long these waste products may be stored before disposal.  This could vary by industry and the substances in question, but it's best to include a schedule for disposal as part of creating your checklist for storage and handling of hazardous chemicals.

Disposal

As everyone knows, it's neither safe nor legal to dump hazardous chemicals or chemical waste.  If these substances seep into the ground, reach the water supply, or permeate the air, there could be a negative environmental impact that affects the health of plants, animals, and humans.

Your business is responsible for ensuring safe handling and disposal of any dangerous substances used in operations or created as a byproduct of operations.  There are guidelines in place to help you determine the best possible way to safely dispose of these substances.