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5 Common Hazardous Waste Management Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

May 6, 2015

As most of us know too well, mistakes are an unfortunate – but unavoidable – part of life. Mistakes teach us a great many things, hasten necessary changes, reveal important insights, and prompt us to make better choices in the future (while causing a little suffering and sometimes costing us some money in the process).

But although human fallibility must be accepted, that doesn’t excuse us from doing everything in our power to keep from making mistakes whenever possible – especially when the health and safety of others is at risk.

Hazardous waste management is exactly that – “hazardous” – and so we must strive to make our role in it as infallible as humanly possible. Here are five common mistakes you can avoid with a little preparation, education, and diligence.

  1. Improperly (Or Not) Labeling Hazardous Waste Containers

    Labels serve a critical function: notifying anyone that comes into contact with the container of its hazardous characteristics, as well as the type and amount of contained waste. Marking and labeling containers helps to prevent tragedies (not to mention keeps you compliant). We’ve found it helpful to assign this task to one person and check with them periodically to ensure labels are being both placed and updated as necessary.

  2. Illegally Dumping Hazardous Wastes

    This should go without saying, but it continues to occur throughout the country on a fairly regular basis. Hazardous wastes should never be disposed of in this way, no matter the discretion or planning involved. This practice is illegal, endangers the surrounding environment and community, and can be traced back to you (with painful consequences).

  3. Not Having a Contingency Plan (Or Not Keeping It Updated)

    Both Small Quantity Generators (SQGs) and Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) are required by law to have a contingency plan. Like container labels, a contingency plan was designed to help prevent hazards to human health and the environment by providing instructions and guidance for those dealing with an unexpected spill, release, fire or explosion. Important elements are subject to change, such as emergency contact information or specific actions, and must be updated in a timely manner.

  4. Keeping Too Much Waste On-Site

    Keeping waste on-site is complicated. You’re able to keep waste at the site of generation (the “satellite accumulation” zone) for just three days before it must be moved to a longer-term storage area. Beyond those three days, a large quantity generator (LQG) is able to store waste in a container on-site for ninety days, whereas a small quantity generator (SQG) is able to store hazardous wastes on-site for up to 180 days. To avoid complications or citations, always transfer wastes according to deadlines.

  5. Not Keeping Hazardous Waste Lid Containers Fixed and Closed At All Times

    This is a simple one. In order for a lid to be “closed,” it must be both leak-proof and vapor tight. If the lid isn’t properly closed (or fixed at all), the volume of the waste will be reduced through evaporation (which is pretty dangerous). Make sure all of your employees are aware of this important precaution by posting signs and notices near container storage areas.

Of course, there’s much more to proper hazardous waste management than avoiding these five common mistakes. For help call Hazardous Waste Experts at 800-936-2311 or click here to email us.

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.