Safety around dangerous and hazardous cargo is no joke – and neither are the preparations!
If you want to stay safe around hazardous cargo, you’ll need dangerous goods signs, checklists, mandatory safety equipment… the list goes on and on.
It can feel like a massive headache, we know – when it comes to transporting and handling dangerous goods, you can never be too careful. If you want to avoid a workplace injury, it’s crucial that you prepare your transport business to safely manage dangerous or hazardous cargo.
So, where do you start?
Creating your safety strategy: what are “reasonable” precautions?
Luckily, you won’t need to bubble-wrap everything at the workplace – that would simply be far too much work to be practical, not to mention, it might also cause more issues than it fixes.
While the exact definition is a bit of a grey area, as a general rule, for a precaution to be “reasonable”, the hazard in question has to be:
- Within the realm of possibility
- Possible to counter
- Likely to result in injury
To begin with, you’ll want to start with a risk assessment.
For drivers at transport businesses, the risks might include spills while they’re on the road, likely as a result of containers being poorly secured.
Conversely, for depot workers, the risk may lie in accidents from improper handling.
Once you have all this, you can get started forming your safety strategy.
It should go without saying however that transport businesses that deal in dangerous goods will come up with many more potential issues during the risk assessment than an office, for example!
If you’re struggling with the safety equation, these are a great place to start…
1) Start with dangerous goods signs
The very first thing you’ll want to do is ensure that your depot or warehouse has the proper signage!
Signage is the first ingredient in the recipe for a safer workplace – in particular, signage can:
- Inform visitors and staff alike of on-site hazards
- Identify storage areas for dangerous goods
- Mandate safety equipment and PPE
- Outline safe handling procedures
- Communicate proper emergency response
When carrying dangerous goods signs for your transport or logistics business, you’ll want to begin by ensuring that you have all the required signs at your warehouse or depot. In addition to warning signs, you’ll also need prohibition signs, emergency information panels and signs outlining site procedures.
Simply having signs isn’t enough, however – according to OHS regulations, signs need to be a certain minimum size.
Why? It’s simple: this ensures that the sign can be easily read by your depot workers from where they’re standing.
Unsure whether your workplace signs will pass muster? Ask the safety experts at Signsmart – and once that’s out of the way, it’s time to start shopping for dangerous goods signs using our online store!
2) Think safety measures and PPE at the depot
After you’ve gotten workplace safety signs set up, the next step is to decide what types of safety equipment and PPE will be required at your depot.
Your answer to this question will depend a lot on what you uncovered during your initial risk assessment – in particular, on the types of dangerous goods you handle at your business.
In particular, you’ll need to consider the risk that direct exposure presents, and tailor PPE requirements for depot workers to match.
For example, corrosive chemicals might require thick rubber gloves, closed-toe shoes and coveralls or aprons, as the risk comes from direct exposure.
By contrast, the threat from materials like asbestos comes from inhaling fibres. As such, PPE for these materials focuses on protecting one’s breathing – in particular, through face masks.
And of course, once you’ve worked out what types of PPE you need, you’ll also need to inform everyone on-site about the PPE requirements with mandatory signs.
3) Don’t be afraid to bring out the banhammer
When it comes to workplace safety, certain things simply shouldn’t be allowed!
For example, long hair can get caught in machinery (unless done up in a neat bun). Another is mobile phones, which can often prove to be a distraction – the last thing you want when working with dangerous goods.
With certain dangerous goods in particular, direct contact with skin can cause burns or other injuries – thus, shorts might have to be added to the ban list.
Once you’ve decided what simply doesn’t fly in your workplace, you’ll need to ensure everybody is in-the-loop. For that, you’ll need prohibition signs that outline what’s banned at your business.
4) Lay out procedures
Certain dangerous goods require special handling procedures. Your job is to ensure that these procedures are implemented and communicated at your business.
For drivers and warehouse workers, that means creating a checklist for properly handling dangerous goods.
For example, you might require barrels of chemicals to be ticked off following an inspection by a supervisor. Alternatively, certain containers might need to be wrapped in watertight shrink wrap.
In addition to handling procedures, you’ll also need to tailor your first-aid and emergency procedures for the substances you carry.
For example, chemical burns should be immediately rinsed with cold water for a minimum of 20 minutes before other treatment can commence.
By contrast, potential exposure to asbestos fibres should be treated by immediately quarantining the affected area and calling an asbestos professional.
And just like with PPE, you’ll need to communicate all of this with emergency information panels that outline not just the hazards, but the appropriate emergency response.
5) Dangerous goods labels for goods in-transit
What’s the difference between a dangerous goods sign and a dangerous goods label and diamonds?
Think of dangerous goods diamonds and labels as stickers. Essentially, these are single-use, adhesive signs that your depot workers attach to containers, crates and barrels that hold dangerous or hazardous goods.
Dangerous goods labels identify specific containers, helping your drivers determine which parts of their shipments contain dangerous goods while they’re on the road.
Not to mention, emergency services will be able to properly plan their response should your drivers get into a traffic accident resulting in a spill or leak.
Finally, they also tell drivers and warehouse workers at the destination which particular ones need to be treated with extra care.
Keep your transport business safe with Signsmart
At Signsmart, our mission is to make your transport and logistics business as safe as possible.
Our main weapons? Workplace safety and dangerous goods signs!
Whether you work with dangerous substances and materials on a regular basis, or once in a blue moon, good signage that’s tailored for the hazards your transport business faces is essential.
Your workplace shouldn’t go a minute without safety signage. If you need dangerous goods signs fast, Signsmart offers fast, nationwide shipping – in many cases, we can get your sign to you by the next day.