The Essential Guide For Handling Hazardous Materials

business guide handling hazardous materials

The Bureau of Transportation found that more than 22,500 accidents occurred with hazardous materials in 2019. These accidents injured nearly 200 people and caused more than 90 million dollars in damages. So, don't hazard a guess about what's safe and what's not. 

Every business in America needs to learn how to handle hazardous materials. But handling hazardous materials involves more than wearing a HazMat suit. 

Promote health and safety in the workplace with this quick guide. 

Hazmat Preparation 

The easiest accident to clean up is one that never happens. Prepare for a hazardous material accident before one occurs. 

Take a close work at your workspace. If you see anything that can go wrong, prepare against it. 

Mark all places where hazardous materials are stored. Label the packages of hazard materials with clear details about what the hazard is. Include visuals that represent the threat that the material can pose. 

Provide signage around entrances and exits. Practice evacuations from worksites and buildings. Consult with your local government on what their first steps should be after a spill, fire, or explosion. 

Clean all work surfaces with soap and water once per shift. If hazardous materials can get on clothing, provide protective clothing. 

Get an insurance and liability plan for yourself, your coworkers, and your business. Get a warranty on all products you use. 

Acquire HazMat suits for yourself and your employees. Buy HazMat software that allows you to make an inventory of your materials. 

Transportation While Handling Hazardous Materials 

You must follow all Department of Transportation guidelines when moving hazardous materials. You must describe in writing what materials you are transporting and how you are moving them. 

You cannot use public transportation to move hazardous materials. Secure containers so they cannot shake, tip, or spill. Close all doors and seal all gaps that lead out of the vehicle. 

Drive at safe speeds in fully-functioning vehicles. Consult with your drivers on a regular basis. If they report feeling tired or disoriented, ask them to take a break. 

If an accident occurs, respond to it as soon as possible. Call your local authorities and tell them what materials spilled. Hand over all paperwork to investigators. 

Hazardous Material Inventory 

The DOT has several classes of hazardous materials. Each poses its own threat to health and the environment. 

Class 1 is for explosives. Store explosives in areas where they cannot catch on fire or react to chemicals. Remove all sources of electricity from your vehicles so they cannot produce sparks. 

Class 2 is for gases. Gases can be flammable or toxic. Store gases so they cannot decompress or react together. 

Class 3 is for flammable liquids, while class 4 is for flammable solids. Some substances can produce flames when they contact air that is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Refrigerate these materials and keep them from touching each other. 

How to Handle Hazardous Materials 

Handling hazardous materials is no laughing matter. It requires careful and persistent safety measures. 

Prepare for an accident in advance with proper signage and mock evacuations. Transport hazardous materials in fully-functioning vehicles with experienced drivers. Learn the classes of hazardous materials and store them accordingly. 

Safety is essential for a productive workplace. For more business safety guides, follow our coverage and resources for a safer workplace.

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