How to Ship Hazardous Materials While Maintaining Employee Safety
April 24, 2014, 9:25 am - Hazardous shipments are dangerous not only for assets and company profit, but possibly also for the health of employees and bystanders. When dealing with hazardous materials it is important to be aware of the material, be prepared for all foreseeable disasters, and be quick to respond with the right action if an incident occurs. Awareness: If you are serious about learning how to ship hazardous materials without harming your employees, first you need to become aware of what each warning sign means. If your organization uses multiple hazardous materials - say a poison, a caustic agent, and combustibles used in mining - every individual risk should be accounted for separately. To make it easier to adhere to safety standards, break up shipments that contain different kinds of hazardous materials and combine those that will require similar precautions. Knowing how to properly mount hazmat placards and labels is another essential piece in how to ship hazardous materials safely. Placards should be placed in four locations on a trailer or large tank of dangerous materials, and it should be clearly labeled at least once on small tanks and secured boxes. Preparedness: If you separated the shipments, this should be easy for you. Prepare each crew with what they need to first protect themselves and bystanders. The employees should also be trained on how correctly call the authorities and then briefed on how to handle their specific hazardous material. Consider having them take more than just the basic level of hazmat training to ensure complete safety. While it is a must with such freight as radioactive materials, proper training can also help avert costly damages in other less dangerous shipments as well. Some chemicals defy common sense with how they should be handled, hence the value of education in how to ship hazardous materials without incident. An example are caustic and explosive powders that if exposed to water (sometimes even humidity) they can activate and become very dangerous. While the things that can go wrong are numerous, there is fortunately a variety of highly effective solutions. In the previous example, there are neutralizing powders that are applied first to the dangerous dust, then the neutralized solution can be safely brushed off the skin. The more safety or neutralizing equipment that you can afford without sacrificing time, budget, or feasibility of a shipment can not only save you possible asset loss, but possibly also life and limb of your employees as well. Responsiveness: Your employees will either be at the awareness level or possibly even at the operations level with the right training. At the awareness level, the individual must leave the scene, alert the authorities, and possibly try to halt or redirect traffic. Operations level individuals require continuing education every year. They put that to work by trying to decontaminate themselves and others, escape the scene, and take actions to dam the spill or take first measures towards containment. With proper training, the transport of hazardous materials does not have to be dangerous. Take the time to educate all employees who may be loading, transporting or handling hazardous materials in any way, and ensure they have the proper equipment to protect themselves and respond to potentially serious spills or leaks. Your and your employees will feel more confident in shipping hazardous materials if they are adequately prepared for any situation.