Of course, that doesn’t mean that you’re covered!
Safety is a complex issue – especially when hazardous chemicals are involved. Staying safe around this cargo requires a lot of careful work.
It’s a lot to take in – no doubt you’re panicking internally, wondering whether or not you’ve truly covered all of your bases.
Luckily, we’ve put together a couple of pointers to get you started.
You may want to get comfortable, though – there are a lot of things to go through here!
Safe handling of hazardous materials: 11 rules you NEED to follow
Rule #1: Start with proper training for hazardous waste handling and management
Whether you are the business owner, supervisor or site manager, you need to ensure everyone knows what they need to do to stay safe while handling hazardous chemicals.
And that starts by providing up-to-date information and proper training to your staff about safely handling and managing hazardous materials. Some of these training includes:
- Knowing how to identify wastes and hazards
- Identifying the hazards and risks of harmful substances
- Application of safe work practises
- Knowledge in emergency response procedures
- Adhering to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
Need help reminding your team about all of these details? Enter, workplace safety signs!
Rule #2: Learn and understand material and safety data sheet (MSDS)
Before using any hazardous materials, don’t forget to read labels and refer to the MSDS sheet to know the hazards and precautions of using and handling them.
Material safety data sheet (MSDS) also informs every staff of the chemical properties of each substance; that’s why it is very important to thoroughly read labels before using them.
Rule #3: Make sure you use and wear protective gear when working with hazardous materials
Different substances have different safety requirements.
As a general rule when handling hazardous waste however, protective gear and safety equipment is a must.
Unsure what you need? Luckily for you, if you know what you’re receiving, you can find out. Each substance manufacturer is obligated to provide you with a Safety Data Sheet that outlines all of the hazards a substance poses, as well as what you need to do to stay safe.
And that includes what PPE you’ll need while handling and cleaning up.
Rule #4: Label containers properly
Proper labels on hazardous chemicals help staff identify what they’re dealing with.
However, you can go even further, leaving specialised instructions on how to use, transport and dispose of chemicals safely.
Each label should strictly follow the model code of practice that serves as a practical guide for all industries that use hazardous wastes.
Whatever you need, our range of dangerous goods labels ensures that your team knows what they’re dealing with.
Rule #5: Use materials properly
So you aren’t just transporting hazardous chemicals, but using them as well.
Always use hazardous materials for its sole intended purpose – resist the urge to use chemicals for other purposes such as disinfectants or cleaning agents if they are not intended as such.
Simply put, it’s just too risky!
Rule #6: Are you ready for a spill?
Planning for the storage of hazardous chemicals and putting up hazchem signs is just the beginning – what happens if you have a spill?
Despite your best efforts, things may not always go according to plan. When this happens, you need to be prepared:
- Do you have spill kits on-site?
- What’s your plan for responding to a spill?
- Do you have first-aid kits and showers?
- How many drains do you have on-site?
These are just some of the things you’ll need to keep in mind while planning for a spill!
Rule #7: Avoid eating and drinking while handling various hazardous materials
Really, this should go without saying!
Not only that, but after handling chemicals, it’s imperative that your team members thoroughly wash their hands before going on lunch break.
Hazardous chemicals can cause skin irritations, eye and respiratory problems that one can easily get from inhaling, eating, and even accidentally drinking them.
Rule #8: Keep the workplace clean and safe at all times
Not only does it make things more pleasant, but it also reduces the chances of an accident.
That means keeping passageways clear, and eliminating potential tripping hazards by scheduling ongoing cleaning to lessen the risk of something going wrong.
Rule #9: Store hazardous materials properly
Again, this depends on the exact nature of the chemicals you’re working with. There are some that require rather specific storage set-ups.
For example, chemicals that fall into Class 5 (oxidising chemicals) need to be stored away from other chemicals, and may even need a special ventilation setup.
Again, it all depends on what you’re working with – luckily, your safety data sheets (as well as someone who understands the different hazchem classes) can ensure that all of your goods are stored properly.
Rule #10: Make sure that shipments out are properly labelled
It isn’t just chemicals in storage that need to be labelled with hazchem signs – so too does anything you send out.
In fact, it’s probably more important that you label containers going out!
The reason is simple: truck drivers and bystanders may not be as familiar with your chemicals as you. While your team knows what to do, others don’t.
With the right dangerous goods labels, however – in particular, emergency information panels – you can ensure that should the worst happen while on the road that nobody comes to harm.
Rule #11: Plan for disposal of hazardous materials
Some chemicals need to be disposed of in very specific ways – for example, while some can be poured down the drain, they will need to be thoroughly diluted and watered down first.
And for others, that isn’t even an option – instead, they need to be absorbed using sand and then disposed of using specialised hazchem bins.
Luckily, you can find out what yours needs by looking at the hazchem code.
Hazchem codes follow a standardised format using a series of digits to immediately communicate and identifies how chemicals and other hazardous materials need to be handled with regard to:
- Disposal method
- Flammability and volatility
Once you’ve broken down your substance’s code, you’ll be able to plan around that – and that includes coming up with a proper disposal method.
Waiting on your first shipment of hazardous materials?
Start with the right hazchem signs, dangerous goods labels and emergency information panels!
You didn’t really think we wouldn’t talk about this, did you?
Safety is always the number one priority in managing hazardous wastes and chemicals. While each of these 11 steps is important, workplace safety signs are an important starting point.
That means things like:
- Hazchem signs
- Emergency information panels
- Dangerous goods labels
- Emergency safety signs
Of course, it isn’t as simple as just hanging signs up. You’ll also need to ensure that:
- Signs are sturdy and made of tough materials
- They’re the right size
- Visibility is maintained
- Signs are installed in the right places
And these are just some of the details that Australian regulations require!
It’s a lot to take in, especially if you’re still new to the whole hazardous chemicals business. Luckily, we’re here to help.
Signsmart doesn’t just make signs – we’re also Hazchem experts.
Hazchem is what we do. We’re intimately familiar with different signage requirements, and can help you understand what you need to do.
Combine that with our industry-leading turnaround, and it’s no wonder that we’re the number one choice for hazchem signs!