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TOPIC: Hazardous-materials

Hazardous Materials: 3 Keys to Ensure Employee Safety


A hazardous material is any item or agent (biological, chemical or physical), which has the potential to cause harm to humans, animals or the environment, either by itself or through interaction with other factors. Examples of hazardous materials include chemicals, toxic agents, corrosives, combustible or flammable chemicals.

Hazardous materials can damage the skin, lungs and eyes and in extreme cases cause explosions and fires. It is important to ensure your employees understand the dangers of hazardous materials, know how they should be stored and wear the proper protective equipment when exposed to them.

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Reduce Exposure to Chemical Hazards

Last week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported to renew its alliance with the Society for Chemical Hazard Communication to reduce and prevent worker exposure to chemicals hazards. OSHA also reported that the alliance intends to increase awareness of the requirements of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals and the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers under the OSH Act.

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Protect Your Workers from DOT Hazards

We avoid the large tankers rolling down our highways displaying warnings of Hazardous Materials. We see metal drums in warehouses and gated facilities with bold signs alerting us to harmful chemicals. We hear on the news about train derailments and chemical spills that impact the area... and sometimes lead to large scale evacuations.

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Hazardous Chemicals are Threatening our American Workers

Hazardous chemicals were the cause of nearly 3 million nonfatal private industry injuries or illnesses in 2012. According to former US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, "Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious threats facing American workers today."

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Workplace Safety: Top 10 Cited OSHA Violations of 2011

Happy Friday! We trust that you got through the work week safely.  We talked this week about how to identify health & safety hazards in your workplace and want to end the week by identifying for you the Top 10 Cited OSHA Violations of 2011. 

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Workplace Safety: Identifying Health & Safety Hazards

Another work week is upon us and Arbill wants to help make sure that you continue to keep your employees and visitors safe.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 3,063,400 recordable non-fatal injuries and illnesses in Private sector industry in the USA in 2010.  In addition to their social costs, workplace injuries and illnesses have a major impact on an employer's bottom line. According to The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), it has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers' compensation costs alone.

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Hazardous Materials: Take Every Precaution

It’s important to take every precaution possible when removing hazardous waste, whether it’s a common pool cleaner or a more toxic substance. Here are six crucial things to consider:
  1. Gloves -- Depending on what substance you’re dealing with, you run a skin irritant risk anywhere from simple rashes to chemical burns to full toxification. Protecting your skin is crucial, so wear new rubber gloves every time you handle hazardous waste!
  2. Mask -- Inhaling dangerous chemicals and materials can be deadly, so protect your lungs and inner body with a good mask or respirator.
  3. Goggles -- Hazardous liquids and gases have potential to cause irritation or even blindness. A pair of heavy-duty goggles protects you from this risk.
  4. Airtight Container -- You do not want any leakage of hazardous waste to contaminate the people and places you come in contact with while traveling to dispose of the material. Always store hazardous waste in an airtight container.
  5. Assess -- Each type of hazardous waste has unique safety methods for handling and removal. Always assess before you dispose.
  6. Seek Professional Advice -- Contact the EPA and DEP for advice on proper places to dispose of each hazardous waste.

When it comes to hazardous materials, you cannot afford to take any shortcuts. Be proactive, think outside the box and follow all necessary precautions.

We hope you found this week’s hazardous materials series a helpful resource for ensuring that your employees return home from work safely every day. Tune in to the Arbill Blog next week to learn how to keep your employees healthy! In the meantime, be sure to check out our website for more information on workplace safety guidelines, solutions and programs or contact us to learn more about Arbill.
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Hazardous Materials: Think Outside the Box

Many employers get stuck in the conventional thinking that if they simply abide by regulations, they’ll be safe. Unfortunately, this is not entirely true.

Of course, safety regulations for storing materials -- such as OSHA's 29 CFR 1910 Subpart H and consensus standards like National Fire Protection Association Code 30 for flammable and combustible liquids -- should always be followed. But blindly following regulations creates a false and dangerous sense of security.

Think outside the box. In addition to following regulations, assess the risk of hazardous materials by asking these four questions:

  1. WHAT material is being stored? Understand the physical and chemical properties of a hazardous material. Know what substances and conditions with which it is incompatible, like flammable liquids and oxidizing agents.
  2. WHY is the material being stored? Any risk assessment should include ways to eliminate or reduce the risk. For example, a just-in-time inventory approach -- receiving goods only as they are needed in the production process -- lowers the quantity of hazardous materials on-site.
  3. WHERE is the material being stored? Ensure that "storage" is clearly defined as a permanent, temporary or transient location. This includes any area a container is kept when the storage area is full, which is often the most dangerous and vulnerable location because it is not expected. Also, be aware of processes that take place in areas adjacent to or near the storage location, which may affect the integrity of safely stored materials. For example, an ignition source is created when a heater is installed near flammable liquids.
  4. HOW is the material being handled and stored? Assess how the material is being moved and handled, and how this can be improved for safety. For example, it may be safer to move a pallet with one large container than a pallet with four smaller drums. Also assess how it is being stored and the environmental conditions it requires for maximum safety. This requires reviewing local, state and federal regulations in addition to a manufacturer’s specifications. For example, according to OSHA 1910.106(d)(3)(i), no more than 60 gallons of Class 1 or Class 2 liquids, nor more than 120 gallons of Class 3 liquids, may be kept in a storage cabinet.

Regularly asking these four questions makes you a proactive proponent of hazardous material safety and significantly reduces risk of accident, injury and death.

Stay tuned for our next post, which will focus on best practices for removing hazardous wastes.

Check back soon for information on removing hazardous wastes, or subscribe to the Arbill Blog. In the meantime, be sure to check out our website for more information on workplace safety guidelines, solutions and programs or contact us to learn more about Arbill.
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Hazardous Materials: Be Proactive

It’s natural to think of a hazardous material as “harmless” when it has been stored without problem for a number of years. But this natural thought process has very harmful consequences.

That’s why we’re dedicating this week’s Blog posts to information about proper storage and removal of hazardous materials. Don’t allow your company to treat hazardous materials with potentially fatal negligence.

Do you work at a company that stores drums of flammable liquids? They may have been stored in the corner of the plant for years without cause for attention, so it’s easy for both employees and employers to turn a blind eye. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a worst-case scenario to open a company’s eyes to hazardous materials safety.

This is not melodrama or pessimism; this is pragmatic awareness. A fire or explosion costs millions of dollars of damage and claims workers' lives. In fact, improper storage and handling of flammable liquids is the leading cause of industrial fires.

Unfortunately, because of a low probability of an incident, the call for management to base a risk assessment on potential environmental impact and worst-case scenarios often takes a low priority.

Don’t let it take a toxic leak or explosion to consider safe storage and handling of hazardous materials. Be proactive -- it saves lives.

Check back soon for information on how to take a comprehensive approach in assessing the risks of storing hazardous materials.

Our next post will provide advice on how to assess the risk of hazardous materials, so check back later in the week or subscribe to the Arbill Blog. In the meantime, be sure to check out our website for more information on workplace safety guidelines, solutions and programs or contact us to learn more about Arbill.
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