Basic Precautions When Handling Hazardous Materials

Does your business handle dangerous goods? “Dangerous goods” are defined as anything that can harm living things or the environment on exposure. The government classifies hazardous materials and regulates their management. If your business involves dangerous goods, you must understand what you’re dealing with and how to do so correctly.

Recognizing the Nine Classes of Dangerous Goods

The United Nations categorizes nine classes of dangerous goods, some of which have subclasses describing the exact conditions of how or when certain materials are hazardous. These classes are numbered 1 through 9. They are, in order: Explosives, Gases, Flammable Liquids, Flammable Solids (such as matches), Oxidizing Agents and Organic Peroxides, Toxic and Infectious Substances (poisons, pesticides, biohazards), Radioactive Substances, Corrosive Substances (acids and the like), and Miscellaneous (asbestos, dry ice, etc.) While these classes are the same worldwide, countries may place specific substances in different classes.

Proper Packaging and Transportation

The complexities of dangerous goods packaging demand careful attention to comply with all relevant rules. For transportation purposes, dangerous goods are divided based on how dangerous they are into three groups: 1, 2, and 3, with group 1 being the most hazardous and so warranting the strictest control. Containers carrying dangerous goods are generally marked with an internationally standard color-coded diamond symbol (for example, red for flammable or orange for explosive) and four-digit code indicating the specific substance. All drivers must have hazmat training and carry detailed documents concerning their cargo.

Storing Materials Safely

If your business warehouses hazardous materials, it’s imperative you take all necessary steps to secure your goods and protect your workers. See that all items are properly labeled and adequately kept where they can’t cause damage, for instance inside fireproof or waterproof vessels. Remember to brief employees on the risks of mishandling materials and provide them with the requisite protective gear. If disposing of hazardous materials, follow designated instructions precisely to maintain public safety.

To protect yourself and others, it’s critical for your business to be conscientious about any dangerous goods in every aspect of interaction.

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Posted by: Dudley Benjamen on