Ignoring the complexity of handling hazardous materials is a bad idea. There are many moving parts associated with the plan to move hazardous materials in the safest way possible. Each material has its own care instructions to follow, with the chance that your location or employees can change that variable. As exhausting as it can be, handling hazardous materials requires your full attention. Fireworks packaging is a good example of the care needed to handle hazardous material types. Use the ten tips below to get a better grasp on the handling requirements. There is bound to be one or two things that will help you in the future.

10. What Is Your Contingency Plan?

Not only is it smart, but having a contingency plan is required. With this program in place, you guarantee that there is a specific protocol to follow if something should go wrong. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but having the basics laid out for explosions, fires or contamination is preferred. It is a good idea to revise these plans each time you introduce a new type of hazardous material to a location. With out of date guidelines, fines and possible danger is just around the corner. It isn’t uncommon to see the contingency plan change multiple times in a span of a couple of years. That is why it is a good idea to have a ‘base’ plan to pull from so that new changes are easy to implement. Once you get the basics down, any additions will be minor.

9. Check Your Labels

Labels make all the different in the world when you are moving hazardous materials. It lets the people handling the packages know the contents along with any associated danger. Without the label as guidance, a package can be handled in many inappropriate ways. Part of the guidelines require that a label be in clear view of anyone handling the package. Labels are also required to protect everyone from potential mistakes in packaging. It may be rare, but a keen eye will notice if a hazardous material is in the wrong type of package. This is a quick fix if there is a label, and a potential disaster without a label. Minor things like this make the inclusion of a weather-resistant recognizable label mandatory on all packages. Without a clear label, the package can’t be shipped legally.

8. A Strong Seal Keeps Things Out

Containers need to be sealed shut so that nothing gets in or out. On top of this requirement, the container also needs to be compatible with the hazardous material it is storing. A good seal won’t protect from the dangers of using bad packaging. Corrosion and weather resistance are the bare minimum of a high-quality container. Durability is also an issue if the materials are transported several times a year. If you expect multiple handoffs with a particular package, then a good container is a necessity to ensure everything goes smoothly. Drops aren’t expected, but it should still be reinforced enough so that a drop does minimal damage. Accidents happen, and the last thing you want is to be on the receiving end of a bad accident due to weak packaging.

7. Don’t Take On More Than You Can Handle

Take the time to monitor your waste volume in the area. No matter how up to code and neat everything is, there is a such thing as having too much in one area. Keeping multiple different types of hazardous materials in one area is fine if there is space. Stuffing them together and not having any regard for space can cause an unwanted reaction. Think of it like a domino effect, one that could wipe out an entire storage area in a matter of seconds. Once a group of hazardous materials are contaminated, it endangers any and all materials nearby. This leads to lost profits, and in a worst-case scenario, lost lives. Maximize the space available without going overboard with storage. It can be tempting to squeeze in a few more materials, but it is never a good idea.

6. Follow The Guidelines For Storage Materials

There are two sets of guidelines to follow when storing hazardous materials. The first set is state mandated, and there is no wiggle room for how this is handled. State regulations don’t allow for any wiggle room, and companies in defiance of it face heavy fines. The second set of guidelines is company specific. Every business will train their employees on the handling of hazardous materials. It only takes one employee ignoring the guidelines to cause a screw up with any material. Just like there is no excuse for a company ignoring state guidelines, employees are held to a similar standard. When rules are in place, they should be followed until they are updated. Guidelines for hazardous materials handling won’t work well with employees that look for shortcuts.

5. What Are The Risks?

There are some facilities that refuse to store hazardous materials due to the risk. This is common for businesses that don’t want to deal with the hassle of a threat. But stored hazardous materials with good oversight is no different than any other materials. The safety of the setup is determined by the company and its employee’s willingness to follow the rules. Maximum safety is a possibility when everyone falls in line and does their job. When it comes to shipping hazardous materials, the same rules apply but now include a third party. Transportation of the materials relies heavily on everyone involved being in regular communication. Not only is this the responsible way to handle shipping of hazardous materials, but it also highlights any weaknesses in the process. When you see a problem, it gets fixed sooner rather than later.

4. Secure The Area Around The Hazardous Materials

The storage area is just as important as the actual packaging. Make sure that before and after transport, hazardous materials are stored in their designated area. It should also be set up so that only authorized personnel can access the area. An individual with inadequate training can cause havoc in the area and override all the protocols in place. Making sure there are clear markings for the area is one way to ensure it is safe. After the initial design, there should be plans to prevent secondary containment in case something goes wrong. Weekly documentation that covers the inspections of hazardous material areas is another good way to ensure safety. It can also help to pinpoint problems before and after transport. When possible, walkthroughs can find specific weaknesses if guidelines are not followed. Think of it as the second line of defense when handling the hazardous material area.

3. Check Your Insurance

Even if an individual or company follows state and business protocols, there is a chance that insurance won’t cover accidents. Insurance coverage has a lot of fine print when dealing with hazardous materials, so get a full rundown of coverage. There are some things in the contract that may not line up with the interests of the business. When hazardous materials are mishandled, insurance should cover some or all of the damages. The only thing that will cause problems is negligence from not following state or business protocols. If there are extra rules written into an insurance contract, make sure it lines up with how you handle hazardous waste transport.

2. What Are The Requirements?

It has been talked about already, but the specific requirements for handling hazardous waste vary per state, business and individual. Neglecting any of these three things will cause trouble with both ends of a transport. Missing requirements will also make it impossible to collect on an insurance claim if something goes wrong. A checklist should be used to make sure that current requirements are up to date. That same checklist should include future updates that impact how hazardous materials will be handled with new rule changes.

1. A Trained Employee Is A Careful Employee

Transporting hazardous materials requires employees that take safety seriously. There are no half measures when dealing with dangerous materials. Along with following proper protocols, employees need to understand how to react when something does go wrong. Even if containment problems exist, they can still be handled without major damage. Minimizing the overall damage is only possible with the help of a trained employee. Everyone on board should be familiar with company and state procedures during an emergency. That includes knowing their appropriate roles before, during and after handling hazardous materials. Strict training requirements create employees that are ready for unconventional work situations.

Wrap Up

As long as you don’t overlook the small things, hazardous material handling will be a smooth operation. A safe work environment relies on educating everyone involved about the dangers. When you decide to move hazardous materials, there is a risk involved. Minimize that risk by safely storing and handling materials as per the requirements of your location.