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Hazardous Waste: It’s Called ‘Hazardous’ for a Reason

Originally posted by Chris Kilbourne on http://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

Hazardous wastes need special handling. Failure to do so can result in tragedy.

OSHA has cited a hazardous waste treatment facility and levied heavy fines in the wake of a tragic fire and explosion. The incident killed one worker and severely burned another. The agency did not hold back in its reaction to the employer’s “complete disregard for employees’ safety and health.”

According to OSHA, the company failed to recognize hazards and train employees on the potentially dangerous interactions between materials being handled and tools in use.

The cause of the fire and explosion was the ignition of an industrial filter cartridge filled with sodium chlorate. The likely source of the ignition was an electrically powered reciprocating saw.

OSHA defended its heavy citations, noting that even after the incident, which took place late last year, the company did not take steps to ensure that employees knew how to handle hazardous waste and how to use appropriate PPE.

The company was fined more than $300,000 and placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). The SVEP focuses on employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat, or failure-to-abate violations.

It’s your responsibility to establish safe chemical handling rules and to make sure employees understand and follow them. Here’s are some general rules workers who may come in contact with hazardous waste should follow:

  • Following all established rules, and perform job duties as you’ve been trained
  • Being cautious and plan ahead, thinking about what might go wrong
  • Using required PPE, and inspecting it carefully before each use
  • Making sure all containers are properly labeled
  • Reading labels and safety data sheets (SDSs)
  • Never eating or drinking while handling hazardous materials
  • Storing all materials properly, separating those that are incompatible, and keeping materials in ventilated, dry, cool areas

But there’s a lot more workers need to do and need to know. That’s where we can help.

If you’re looking for high-quality, highly effective HAZWOPER training materials, you are looking for BLR’s HAZWOPER Training ProgramThis unique program includes 16 customizable PowerPoint training presentations on DVD, a 200+page HAZWOPER training manual with tests, handouts, and an electronic version on CD-ROM! The handy outline tells you exactly what to present and when to meet either the 8-,24, or 40-hour requirements!