Should you hire a contractor or full-time employee or shoulder the work on your own? This is a common question in the EH&S world and one that has sparked many debates. With many years’ experience in the EH&S industry, I have experience with all three situations. While there are benefits to all three, many employees don’t realize that one solution would not only lighten the workload but also help them achieve their career goals. Here’s how hiring a contractor can help you get promoted.Read More
Environmental, Health & Safety Blog
There are many benefits of bringing in an outside contractor for help with spills both big and small. Hazmat contractors are highly trained in the evaluation of physical and chemical hazardous of spills and are always armed with the appropriate meters and monitors to ensure respiratory safety of themselves and their employees.
Once they determine the level of personal protective equipment (PPE) needed, they will be familiar with specific cleaning supplies and materials needed for an individual chemical. They can also demo parts of a room, while in the appropriate PPE, when building structures have been impacted. Perhaps one of the most useful things about a hazmat contractor is the ability to give you peace of mind that the spill is actually clean. Mercury, for instance, forms a colorless and odorless vapor that can linger at high concentrations if the initial spill isn’t cleaned properly. Using a mercury vapor monitor, a hazmat contractor can track down hotspots and clean until the vapor is below recommended and regulatory limits ensuring that your staff is safe to continue work in the area. If necessary, most hazmat contractors will have environmental engineers or chemical hygienists that can write a report detailing the spill, cleanup efforts, and clearance readings to submit to insurance companies and building landlords.
Building off the last post on who should evacuate during a spill, another common question is “Who is responsible for cleaning up the spill?” OSHA states in CFR 1910.120 that a spill becomes an emergency response when it is likely to result in an uncontrolled release of hazardous substance and/or poses a potential safety or health hazard to the responder. This is a fairly broad definition, but it generally boils down to what you and the responder feels comfortable with.
If a lab employee spills a very small quantity of a fairly benign substance, then they are probably capable of cleaning it. However, if that small quantity is highly toxic or is impacting a floor drain that leads to city sewer, it has become an emergency that requires OSHA trained personnel to evaluate and clean. A useful tool that many institutions have put into place is a “cut off” volume for any and all low-risk substances to delineate between “incidental” and “emergent” spills.
For instance if your “cut off” volume is 4 liters and a researcher drops a half full 4 liter bottle of buffer, they can clean it up. On the other hand, if the same bottle contains ethanol, which poses a significant fire risk, it’s time to evacuate your employee and call in a hazmat-trained spill team. It’s important to note that it’s perfectly acceptable and fairly common to prescribe your “cut off” volume at 0, meaning any spill of any volume requires a trained hazmat team to evaluate and clean regardless of the associate hazards.
Tags: emergency response
A common question you will need to deal with during a chemical spill is who to evacuate and how much of the area will need to be closed to personnel. Much of this will depend on the size and type of spill you’re dealing with.
A large spill of a relatively non-hazardous substance will require less action than a small spill of highly toxic or volatile chemical. Action will also depend on whether the spill occurs in an open space or within the confines of a small lab or fume hood. Regardless of where the spill happens, it’s best to take the “better safe than sorry” approach and evacuate as many people as possible.
If the spill occurs outdoors or in a large open area, anyone in line of sight of the spill should be moved to safety. Your Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) can then help you fine-tune your exclusion zone as it should clearly prescribe evacuation distances. When dealing with a spill in a lab or fume hood it’s generally acceptable to evacuate the lab and close the doors behind you. You should also use air monitoring at the door to ensure the breathing zone outside of the lab isn’t being impacted.
There are a lot moving parts when it comes to completing a lab relocation. You have to pack and label chemicals, decontaminate your lab thoroughly and transport everything to the new lab, while, all the while, remembering every regulation associated with the move and making sure you’re in compliance with all of them.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on September 8, 2014, released their final rule on Pharmaceutical Controlled Substances and what options there are now for disposal. This final rule, took effect October 9, 2014, has expanded the program to make the disposal of pharmaceutical controlled substances simpler and safer. Here’s what you should know about the ruling.Read More
Lithium batteries are the hottest topic in hazmat transportation today and the Federal Aviation Administration is aggressively enforcing penalties against employers who incorrectly offer them for transport (up to $77,114 per violation). To make matters worse, the shipping regulations are notoriously convoluted and confusing, and since their inception, have been continually changing.
Keep reading to learn more about the regulations and how you can stay compliant.
Why Are Lithium Batteries Regulated?Lithium metal batteries if damaged can cause spontaneous fires from lithium exposure to the moisture in the air.
Lithium metal batteries often contain chemical electrolyte that creates toxic and/or corrosive vapor when exposed to air- these can be released if the battery is damaged.
The temperature of a lithium metal fire exceeds the melting point of aluminium (the material of which most aircraft is composed).
For more on the potential harms of lithium batteries, register for our webinar here.Read More
Tags: lithium batteries
Many businesses view the issue of compliance as merely a nuisance, and the fines that result simply as the cost of doing business. However, in a couple of weeks, this “cost of doing business” is going to nearly double, thanks to a new regulation put in place by President Obama last November. The new rule, technically referred to as the “Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015” allows OSHA to increase fines in keeping up with the rate of inflation. Even though annual inflation may only be 2% or so, OSHA hasn’t been able to raise their fines since 1990, so the organization is now catching up to the current value of the dollar to the tune of a 78% penalty increase, effective August 1. That said, let’s look at the age-old question, “Is compliance worth it?” a little more closely.Read More