In warehouse or medical work environments, it’s common to have to dispose of biohazardous materials, but chemical spills and accidents can pose a serious threat to workers if they’re not cleaned up properly or if they’re left unattended. If you’re new to running a warehouse, you should be aware of safety procedures for disposing of biohazardous materials. The following are basic guidelines for safely handling dangerous chemicals.
What materials are biohazardous or dangerous chemicals?
Before disposing of hazardous materials, you first have to know what’s classified as such. Any substance that’s potentially infectious is considered biohazardous waste. Blood, bodily fluids, specimen cultures, human tissue and animal waste are all biohazards.
Chemical wastes are a little more difficult to identify — they’re defined by federal and state regulations and by being toxic, corrosive, ignitable or reactive.
Use properly labeled chemical waste disposal containers
For the safety of employees and sanitation workers, throw away hazardous materials in designated biohazardous or chemical waste bags and containers.
Biohazardous waste bags and containers are either clear or red and should have the biohazard symbol somewhere on the receptacle. The bags must be tightly sealed before being placed in, again, clearly marked biohazard waste containers.
Chemical waste must be placed in sealable containers with the proper hazardous waste label, and the type of chemicals inside should be written on said label. Make sure that the chemical won’t react to the container, and that two chemicals in the same container won’t react to each other.
Use tools designated for biohazardous waste disposal
Besides using the right hazardous waste containers, certain waste disposal tools make chemical handling that much safer. Tools like corrosion-proof shovels and scrapers, and toxin-resistant hand scoops are useful for gathering broken glass and can be reused after being thoroughly washed. A chemical-resistant plastic bucket with a built-in divider is also necessary for cleaning up more than one substance.
Wear chemical-safe clothing when handling materials
If you’re handling or disposing of potentially dangerous chemicals, protect yourself by wearing clothing that keeps contaminants from getting on your skin and in your eyes. Thick latex gloves and eye goggles are a must when handling liquids.
The required uniform depends on your place of employment — in a medical facility, white lab coats or bodysuits and plastic shoe coverings are usually enforced, whereas warehouse protective gear might include a hardhat or — in extreme circumstances — a full-body plastic chemical suit.
Keeping employees safe should be the number one priority, and knowing proper chemical safety procedures is critical to preventing serious health problems. Make sure every employee is aware of how to handle and dispose of hazardous waste.
Image courtesy of cohdra