Hazardous substances remain omnipresent in today’s economy. After all, they were a driver of economic growth. And as a result, you’ll find hazardous substances throughout the business landscape.
To limit the impact of these substances on the health and safety of workers, communities, and the environment, though, employers must comply with the hazardous materials regulations that are in place in their jurisdiction.
What’s more, those frameworks tend to be multi-layered, consisting of international, federal/national, state, and/or local statutes. Employers will have to integrate the relevant regulations into their hazardous materials management system to be considered fully compliant. This piece addresses how to do it.
Employers must first understand what substances are considered hazardous. Essentially, these are substances that present physical, chemical, or biological hazards to people or the environment.
Beyond that definition, hazardous waste varies by type. Types can include the following:
The Basel Convention, which regulates the transboundary movement of hazardous waste, defines hazardous waste as waste that has any of the following characteristics:
Wastes that belong to the above category include the following:
Wastes which contain certain compounds, such as copper, zinc, cadmium, mercury, lead, and asbestos
Residues arising from the incineration of household waste
The regulation of these substances is likewise complex. In Australia, for instance, hazardous waste is waste that, by its characteristics, poses a threat or risk to public health, safety, or the environment.
The term corresponds to the following:
Additionally, a hazard has a set of inherent properties that may cause adverse effects to organisms or the environment, examples of which include:
How then to deal with these substances? The best-practice approach to the control and management of hazardous materials is the hazardous materials management plan (HMMP).
A typical plan will lay out the proper use, handling, and storage practices and procedures to be followed by personnel working with hazardous materials.
That’s not all, of course. Part communication plan, part description of hazardous materials management processes, a HMMP will often include the following sections:
One of the most important aspects of hazardous materials management is handling and storage. And so, HMMPs will often detail guidelines for handling and storage.
These guidelines vary depending on the hazardous substances in question. Generic guidelines, though, include the following:
Finally, multiple jurisdictions are moving to strengthen their work health and safety regimes regarding hazardous substances in the workplace.
Employers, in their turn, must remain proactive to mitigate the threats posed by hazardous waste as well as remain in compliance with these evolving regulations.
Adopting best-practice hazardous materials management protocols, such as the many endorsed here, can only help firms mitigate risk, reduce cost, reach compliance, and ultimately achieve a competitive advantage in their industries.
Published May 19, 2021