Sustainable Hazardous Materials Management
The best practice for addressing hazardous materials within a facility is for managers to eliminate or reduce the hazard to the highest achievable level within their organizations. Green initiatives have made it easier for managers to sell these best practices.
Local, state and federal environmental agencies also are encouraging the reduction or elimination of waste at the source by modifying operating processes, promoting the use of non- or less-toxic substances, implementing conservation techniques, and reusing materials rather than putting them into the waste stream. These initiatives also help managers in their quest for superior hazardous materials management.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a number programs designed to educate managers on processes that prevent pollution by saving energy, encouraging environmentally preferable purchasing, and providing technical assistance to state agencies and businesses. Find more information at www.epa.gov/ebtpages/pollutionprevention.html.
Finally, in addition to reducing regulatory requirements, using more environmentally friendly products and materials will reduce worker exposures and exposure-monitoring requirements, curtail the need for personal protective equipment, lessen spill-response requirements, and minimize hazardous and special waste streams. The changes also are designed to enable managers to deliver cleaner indoor air and minimize occupant complaints.
Using paints and carpets that do not emit toxic gasses, as well as using ceiling tiles, wall systems, and furniture made with non-toxic materials, will improve air quality throughout the facility. The EPA has determined good indoor air quality keeps staff and other building occupants healthier and reduces absences related to respiratory conditions and other environmental illnesses.
Jeffery C. Camplin, CSP, CPEA, is president of Camplin Environmental Services Inc. in Rosemont, Ill. He is also the administrator of the American Society of Safety Engineers’ Environmental Practice Specialty.