Appropriate handling of hazardous waste is essential to the safety of your employees, business and community. Failure to comply with proper handling requirements could lead to potential risk of serious injury or health problems. By preventing toxic spills or accidents, you’ll save yourself time, money, health risk and a huge mess. We’ve put together a general hazardous waste inspection checklist that highlights the procedures you should have in place to ensure your company is following Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.
Environmental Protection Agency Tips
The EPA wants you to be following appropriate protocol when it comes to hazardous waste, so they have their own Best Practices Handbook that can be summed up as the following essential points:
- Determine the characteristics of the hazardous waste at hand
- Choose a container that is known to be compatible with the waste
- Once waste is contained, mark or label appropriately and move to a safe storage area
- Inspect the container weekly, ensuring it’s in good condition until removed from the site
Your Hazardous Waste Inspection Checklist
To ensure proper management of hazardous waste, it should be inspected and reviewed on a weekly basis while being stored on-site. Here are the standards your weekly checklist should include:
1. Visual Inspections of Containers
Visual reviews should be thorough, as proper storage is the most important factor of hazardous waste management. Check every single container for any leaks, stains or drips coming from containers. Signs of leakage will require immediate attention.
Pay notice to the condition of each container; if you notice any bulging, dents or other corrosion, it’s a sure sign that something is amiss. Additionally, take into consideration details such as drum stacking and aisle space. Is there adequate space for your employees to walk around the containers? Are combustible materials being stored in an appropriate area, such as behind a “blast wall,” separate from other wastes? These are all considered high-priority management practices.
2. Detailed Labeling
Include details such as the start date, the materials in each container, what dangers each could lead to, and notes on how to manage any issues that may arise. Each container should be labeled with the words “hazardous waste” so it’s clear to those who may be working with them.
3. Proper Safety Equipment (PPE)
This varies based on what you are storing, but at a minimum it’s recommended that your business provides:
- Hand and eye washing station
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) including respirator masks, goggles and gloves
- Fire extinguisher *be sure this is compatible with your stored materials
This safety equipment must be easily accessible in case of emergencies. To determine if there is additional equipment you may need, contact an experienced hazardous waste management company.
4. Consistent Record Keeping
When managing hazardous waste materials, consistent, detailed record keeping is a must. All information about the substances stored on-site should be readily available. Information within this documentation could include:
- Types of hazardous waste
- Locations of all stored waste
- Potential hazards or risks
- Emergency response procedures, including contact information for emergency services
5. Planned Secondary Containment
Being extra prepared for the possibility of accidents is never a bad idea. Having an organized plan and the right tools to deal with potential accidents can make a major difference in clean-up efforts. There are some great resources on planning for accidents, including spill response recommendations from the American Chemical Society and the Emergency Response Guidebook. Make sure you also have secondary containment available, including spill trays and salvage drums that can help safely manage a spill.
These weekly inspections should be completed on the same day to maintain consistency and regular follow through. Be sure to designate both an inspector and back-up inspector, both of whom must be properly trained, and record findings weekly as inspections are completed. By being thorough and diligent, you will help to ensure your company isn’t responsible for any accidents related to hazardous waste negligence.
Contact the Professionals at MLI Environmental
For the most up to date information, including rules and regulations, contact the EPA or your local hazardous waste management company. Have questions about or need assistance with hazardous waste inspections at your company? Contact the experts at MLI Environmental today!