How to Dispose of Hazardous Waste in the Workplace
All workplaces have some level of hazardous waste onsite. Hazardous waste is defined as any liquid, gas, or solid that causes harm if handled or used improperly. Waste materials include a variety of products, from cleaning products to chemicals and other toxic substances. Even blood is considered a biohazard. Hazardous waste management is not difficult if you take the time to implement the correct procedures. In addition, the handling of these materials requires wearing the right protective uniforms, gloves, boots, and other apparel.
Hazardous materials have different classifications and categories depending upon risk factors. True hazardous waste materials are considered toxic, corrosive, ignitable, or reactive. Universal waste materials are such products like pesticides, mercury used in equipment, and batteries. Human hazardous wastes are classified as either infectious or biohazardous, and include blood, certain bodily fluids, and infected tissues. Lastly, there are medical waste materials, such as surgical gloves, needles, radioactive rods, and other such items that are unable to be cleaned and sterilized.
The first step to disposing of hazardous waste is following Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines to ensure all chemical and hazardous materials are correctly labeled at your facility. The labels should clearly identify the material and contain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) reference. All materials should be stored according to MSDS and EPA guidelines. In some cases controlled temperatures and other environmental conditions must remain consistent for certain chemicals and materials to remain stable.
The next step is to educate your employees about what hazardous materials are used at your business. Employee training needs to highlight how to use and handle materials, how and where to store them, and what protective overalls and other pieces of clothing are worn while working with each material. Further, some types of chemicals and materials require a chain of custody, showing the quantity of a particular substance stored onsite, and who currently has possession of said substance. Any time the substance is transferred from one location to another within the facility, paperwork needs to show it was transferred and who signed off to be responsible for the substance.
Certain hazardous materials have to be disposed of following specific guidelines. They cannot simply be poured down sewage or sink drains. There are waste management companies that pick up waste materials from businesses and dispose of them, following all government and regulatory agency standards. When working with one of these companies, your paperwork should show the quantity and type of materials picked up by the waste management company. You are often required to retain copies of the paperwork for an extended period of time in the event of an audit.
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure your business follows all EPA and other government requirements for using, storing, and handling hazardous waste materials. If you require protective uniforms, lab coats, or other such apparel to protect your employees, contact Prudential Overall Supply today by phone at 800-767-5536.