More than 32 million workers are exposed to 650,000 hazardous chemical products in more than 3 million U.S. workplaces, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These materials pose a serious challenge for maintenance and engineering managers and front-line technicians.
Hazardous materials include everything from school-laboratory chemicals to dry and liquid chemicals workers use for maintenance and housekeeping activities. To reduce the risk of managing these materials and implement a cradle-to-grave strategy, managers must address a series of key issues.
Conducting an evaluation of a facility's hazardous materials management practices and policies is important for several reasons.
First, the evaluation allows managers to identify and address potential issues regarding chemicals workers use in their departments, such as unlabeled containers, leaking chemical containers, or unused and outdated products.
Second, an evaluation helps highlight priority areas managers can improve upon to help a facility comply with regulations.
Third, it enables managers to identify and significantly reduce the areas in which hazardous chemicals and their related waste streams exist. The results of these efforts include a safer work area, improved regulatory compliance, a reduced impact of facilities on the environment and the community, and direct and indirect cost savings.
Elements of an effective hazardous materials management program include:
Hazmat Management: A Nine-Step Program
Hazmat Management: Create an Inventory
Hazmat Management: Review Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
Personal Protective Equipment: OSHA's Stricter Enforcement
Hazmat: Eliminate Hazardous-Waste Streams
Hazmat Management: International System Targets Labels, MSDS