Environmental Health & Safety Compliance Blog

Proactive Chemical Management

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel on Dec 8, 2009 10:27:00 AM

By Greg Rosinski, Chemist II

Walking through the laboratories of colleges and universities will result in seeing a lot of unused chemicals that are prior circa 1980. Typically the chemicals are pushed to the back of the chemical storage cabinet until the professor retires. In order to decrease the potential exposure these chemicals could create it is important for the Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) department to monitor the amount of these chemicals remaining. Recently, a local university had a professor retire from a career of over 50 years of teaching in the same lab. This professor had a refrigerator full of temperature sensitive chemicals that he kept adding to over the years without properly disposing of them. Murphy’s Law played out in this circumstance when a storm happened on the weekend causing a power outage. The school’s generators also were struck causing the refrigerator to shut off, and increase in temperatures beyond the allowable range for the chemicals. The chemicals reacted causing the containers to fail, and spill throughout the refrigerator. On Monday when the professor went to open the refrigerator to start his lab the fumes were nauseating, and forced the EH&S department to call Triumvirate Environmental Inc. to properly dispose of the chemicals. The EH&S then had to make a phone call to have the refrigerator properly decontaminated. The cost to the university in bills and the inconvenience of shutting down the lab has made the EH&S director proactive in disposing of unused chemicals. The result of proper management of aged chemicals has reduced their average spending on disposal, and the occurrence of spills or other incidents. Properly managing chemicals involves spending time in labs, and looking outside of the normal areas. This will help to identify chemicals that are no longer in use. The cost of spills costs more than proactively managing a hazardous waste program. A good place to start looking for temperature sensitive chemicals (not an all inclusive list) is the Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT’s list can be found in 49 CFR 173.224 for self reactive materials, and 49 CFR 173.225 for organic peroxides. These two types of chemicals are known to become unstable with age.

Tags: Environmental Health and Safety, EHS, DOT, Department of Transportation, Chemicals, 49 CFR, Chemical Management

Compliance with the DOT HAZMAT Shipping Regulations

Posted by Rebecca McDaniel on Dec 2, 2009 7:33:00 AM

By Doug Graham, CHMM

The DOT hazardous materials regulations are a lengthy, complex set of rules with wide-sweeping applicability in many facilities. Investigating all the employees, vendors, materials, and shipment types involving hazmats can be challenging. To make matters worse, shipments may be originating from numerous departments, not necessarily immediately obvious to EH&S staff. Here are a few examples, I’ve heard many times over the years- “I didn’t know the lab was shipping dry ice by air”, “the engineering department has their own FedEx account?”, “Materials Management sent back hazardous chemicals to the supplier in a regular box?”, and my personal favorite- “who authorized him to sign hazardous waste manifests?”.

Here are 10 steps one can take to get a handle on DOT hazardous materials compliance-

1. Identify all potentially-regulated hazardous materials (hazardous wastes, medical /biological wastes, biological products and specimens, dry ice, radioactive materials, and hazardous chemicals (e.g., poisons, corrosives, gases, oxidizers, and flammables) that could potentially be shipped from each department.

2. Identify the modes of transport and carriers and the regulations applicable to each (e.g., 49 CFR for ground and UPS domestic air; IATA for FedEx Express; IMDG for international marine).

3. Identify all employees who have responsibilities related to preparing hazardous materials for transport (“hazmat employees”).

4. Develop training program(s) for those employees addressing general awareness, function-specific, and security issues, including training specific to 49 CFR, IATA, and IMDG, when applicable.

5. Train new hazmat employees within 90 days and retrain every 36 months.

6. Create shipping procedures for regularly-offered hazardous materials, and an auditing system to check shipments prepared by contractors, such as hazardous waste profiles, manifests, and labels prepared by waste vendors.

7. Keep up to date by reviewing regulatory changes on a yearly basis (49 CFR effective each Oct. 1, IATA effective each Jan. 1).

8. Maintain records and administrative programs, including annual registration, security planning, training records, past shipping papers, incident reports, and current regulations.

9. Know when and where to ask for help, e.g., Hazmat hotline, consultants.

10. Self-audit on a regular basis, be prepared for a regulatory or corporate audit, and reinforce through training, review and accountability.

Tags: Hazardous, Hazardous Materials, EHS, DOT, IATA, 49 CFR, Hazardous Chemicals