Hazardous waste is a substance that may cause serious harm to an individual if it enters or is left on your body or the environment.  Characteristic hazardous wastes are materials that are known or tested to exhibit one of more of the following hazardous traits: ignitability, reactivity and corrosively.

Employees working with hazardous waste should be properly trained regarding safe handling and the potential hazards.  Training must include information on the hazards of the chemicals and how the employee can protect themselves.  Manufacturers and importers of hazardous materials are legally obliged to include warning labels and Safety Data Sheets with their product.

Injuries can result from improperly handling and storing hazardous materials. Workers should also be aware of any accidents that may occur from unsafe handling. If any questions arise about working with toxic material, employees should talk with their supervisor.

Here are some basic rules all employees who handle hazardous waste should follow:

  1. Follow all established procedures and perform job duties as you have been trained
  2. Be cautions and plan ahead
  3. Always use required PPE and inspect before each use to make sure it is safe.  If PPE is damaged; replace immediately
  4. Make sure all containers are properly labeled and that the appropriate material is in the designated container.  Don’t use any material not contained or labeled properly.  Report any damaged containers or illegible labels to your supervisor
  5. Do not return contained or unused material to the original container
  6. Read labels and the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) before using any material to make sure you understand the hazards
  7. Use all materials for their intended purposes.
  8. Use only the smallest amount necessary to do the job
  9. Never eat or drink while handling any materials and if your hands are contaminated do not use makeup or handle contact lenses
  10. Read the labels and refer to MSDSs to identify properties and hazards of chemical materials
  11. Keep your work area clean.  After handling any materials, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.  Clean work surfaces and desks at least once a shift so that contamination risks are minimized
  12. Store all materials properly in separate containers and store in a ventilated, dry, cool area.
  13. Learn about emergency procedures and equipment.  By understanding emergency procedures, you should be familiar with evacuation procedures, emergency reporting procedures and procedures for dealing with fires and spills.  You should also be prepared to handle a medical emergency if an employee is injured or overcome by chemicals.
  14. Report any signs of illness or overexposure immediately to your supervisor.  Be Aware of the typical symptoms of poising and first aid procedures.
  15. Keep emergency eyewash and shower stations clean.  Test them at least once a month to make sure they are working properly
  16. Do not store more than 55 gallons in satellite accumulation points

Choosing the right PPE for this particular job is essential.  The MDSD should provide a general guidance of PPE and being trained by a qualified professional who knows how to select the proper PPE.  The PPE should be readily available for all employees handling hazardous waste and employees should be trained on how to wear it for emergencies and regular day to day operations.

Frontier Industrial Corporation makes safety training a priority for employees ensuring compliance with local, state and federal health and safety regulations.

Article adapted from: https://ehsdailyadvisor.blr.com/2012/04/11-rules-for-safe-handling-of-hazardous-materials/