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With Legacy Wastes back in the News, How Can PCBUs Confront the Key Challenges of Hazardous Waste Management?

Posted by The Brain on Oct 10, 2019 5:40:43 AM

 

The story is well known. Hazardous substances were long bedrocks of the industrialized, global economy. But subsequent advances in environmental and health science caused a reevaluation of the use of hazardous waste in industry. In turn, governments installed thoroughgoing regulatory regimes to safeguard the health of workers, especially in heavy industry.

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What happened next? Well, hazardous wastes (often legacy wastes) are making a creeping return in the statistics, and now business owners find themselves with legal exposure. What’s more, regulatory compliance isn’t the only challenge PCBUs face when dealing with hazardous waste management.

  1. Misalignment. Companies often lack visibility and collaboration within teams, which creates serious misalignments. For example, Property Services might be responsible for identifying and removing hazardous materials, but an altogether different entity, often external specialist contractors, will be called in for removal.
    If that’s not enough, Work Health and Safety actually bears the full, regulatory consequences of worker exposure. By law, it’s WHS that must have access to relevant information on the matters that can affect the health and safety of their workers, for example asbestos exposure data and the asbestos register.
    Too often, though, Property Services and WHS find themselves out of sync, especially during the crucial discovery and identification stages of the hazardous substance life cycle.

  2. Financial toll. As you can imagine, the price tag for removing hazardous substances, especially multiple substances at once, can be hefty. Teams will need to collaborate in order to prioritize removal, create a risk matrix to mitigate exposure, as well as put a range of controls in place (prior to removal).
    Moreover, sensing a potential economic advantage, businesses might undertake hazardous waste reduction proactively. That strategy will introduce upfront costs, i.e. the cost of research and development required prior to implementation of new waste management technologies, capital investment required for new raw material or additional equipment, energy requirements and the potential for energy recovery, possible decline in process efficiencies, and general waste management cost increases.

  3. Threat of penalties. In most jurisdictions, it’s an offence to export, import, or transit hazardous waste to, from, or through the jurisdiction without permit. In Australia, the maximum penalty for malefactors is up to $1,000,000 for a firm or up to five years in prison for an individual.

  4. Technology. The asset management or risk management technologies most companies use to manage hazardous waste aren’t sufficiently granular to record all (or even most) of the information a firm will need to efficiently manage hazardous waste in compliance with work health and safety statutes. That is, of course, when companies actually adopt technological solutions. Many simply rely on manual processes and spreadsheets, which are wholly inadequate to deal with a complicated hazardous waste environment.

So, what can PCBUs do on the technology front, in particular? Distinguish the contenders from the pretenders, for starters. Many of the software solutions available on the market, especially those tailored to asset or risk management, aren’t flexible enough to provide the level of detail required for managing the hazardous waste life cycle. What can? Consider technology that provides you these key benefits:

  • Mitigates exposure. The solution should allow for core health and safety reporting as well as for proactive mitigation exposure.
  • Enables collaboration and greater accountability. Property Services and Work Health and Safety will tend to be the primary stakeholder teams when it comes to hazardous waste management. Therefore, make sure that the solution offers an intuitive, single integrated platform that tracks both at the asset management and risk exposure level.

So, what can PCBUs do on the technology front, in particular? Distinguish the contenders from the pretenders, for starters. Many of the software solutions available on the market, especially those tailored to asset or risk management, aren’t flexible enough to provide the level of detail required for managing the hazardous waste life cycle. What can? Consider technology that provides you these key benefits:

And that’s not all. To learn more about the strategies and technology solutions you need to get hazardous waste management right, download our guide to effectively dealing with hazardous waste management.

Download Now

 

Topics: Work Health Safety, Safety Management, Safety Newsletter


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