Hazardous Waste Safety

Here’s some important information on hazardous waste safety.

WHAT IS A HAZARDOUS WASTE? Any solid, liquid, or gaseous waste materials that, if improperly managed or disposed of, may pose substantial hazards to human health and the environment.

Every industrial country in the world has had problems with managing hazardous wastes. Improper disposal of these waste streams in the past has created a need for very expensive cleanup operations. Efforts are under way internationally to remedy old problems caused by hazardous waste and to prevent the occurrence of other problems in the future.

A waste is considered hazardous if it exhibits one or more of the following characteristics: ignitability, corrosively, reactivity, and toxicity. Ignitable wastes can create fires under certain conditions; examples include liquids, such as solvents, that readily catch fire, and friction-sensitive substances. Corrosive wastes include those that are acidic and those that are capable of corroding metal (such as tanks, containers, drums, and barrels). Reactive wastes are unstable under normal conditions. They can create explosions, toxic fumes, gases, or vapors when mixed with water. Toxic wastes are harmful or fatal when ingested or absorbed. When they are disposed of on land, contaminated liquid may drain (leach) from the waste and pollute groundwater.

OSHA’S STANDARDS: General industry and the construction industry on hazardous waste operations and emergency response (29 CFR 1910.120 or 29 CFR 1926.65) cover all employees involved in: (1) Clean-up operations of hazardous substances at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites required by Federal, state, local or other governments; (2) Corrective actions involving clean-up procedures at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); (3) Voluntary clean-up operations at sites recognized as uncontrolled hazardous waste sites by Federal, state, local or other governments; (4) Operations involving hazardous waste that are conducted at treatment, storage and disposal (5) facilities licensed under RCRA; (6) Emergency response operations for hazardous substance releases or substantial threats of releases.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE Employers must develop an emergency response plan to handle possible on-site emergencies and coordinate off-site response. Rehearsed regularly and reviewed/amended periodically, the plan must address: personnel roles; lines of authority, training and communications; emergency recognition and prevention; site security; evacuation routes and procedures; decontamination procedures; emergency medical treatment; and emergency alerting procedures. Training is required before employees engage in hazardous in hazardous waste operations and emergency response.

TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UNCONTROLLED HAZARDOUS WASTE OPERATIONS: (1) 40 hours of initial training; 3 days of actual field experience for regular employees to be certified. (2) 24 hours of initial training; 1 day of supervised field experience for employees visiting the site occasionally. (3) 8 hours of additional waste management training for supervisors and managers. (4) 8 hours of annual refresher training.

Disclaimer: The information and suggestions contained in these safety talks are believed to be reliable. However, the authors of the topics and the owners of this web site accept no legal responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency, or completeness of such information or suggestions contained within these topics. These guidelines do not supercede local, state, or federal regulations and must not be construed as a substitute for, or legal interpretation of, any OSHA regulations.