Best Practices for Handling Hazardous Materials Safely

Hazardous materials require special care, not only to keep your employees safe but to adhere to regulations that affect the handling of these materials. Brush up on best practices for safe handling of hazardous materials.

  1. Understand the Hazardous Materials You Use

The first step in safe handling is understanding the hazardous materials used in the workplace. What substances are used, what are the potential hazards, and what is the use for each material? What must employees know before moving, touching, or storing the material?

  1. Label Containers Properly

All hazardous materials must be properly labeled and stored in the right container. If something isn’t stored properly, it could leak out or corrode the containers. Proper labeling ensures employees always know what they’re handling.

As part of proper labeling and storage, make sure that staff clean up the work area as soon as they are finished using a substance. When the work area is clean, there’s less chance of an accidental spill involving a hazardous substance.

  1. Train Employees

It’s not enough to use signage to educate employees, you must train them in safe handling of these materials. Established protocols are a good starting point, but you must also plan ahead for the unexpected. Train employees in emergency procedures, including what to do in a medical emergency involving hazardous materials.

Revisit training annually so that staff always know what to do to stay safe.

  1. Manage Storage Areas Carefully

Hazardous waste regulations mandate that central storage areas must be maintained properly. If your organization overlooks this, you could wind up with steep fines from regulators.

Best practices for storage areas recommend a dry, cool storage area with adequate ventilation. It’s important to keep lids on containers at all times, label hazardous waste as such, and keep all materials properly stored.

Review how hazardous materials are stored, used, and handled at your organization and make any changes needed to bring your organization’s policies in line with safe materials handling. Then review the issue periodically to make sure staff members are keeping up with regulations.