Safe Work Practices
A waste is any solid, liquid, or contained gaseous material that is discarded or recycled. It can be the byproduct of a manufacturing process or simply a commercial product that is used by a business. The Environmental Protection Agency considers a substance hazardous if it can catch fire, if it can react or explode when mixed with other substances, if it is corrosive, or if it is toxic. Below are some basic tips for identifying general requirements for the proper handling of hazardous wastes.
Make sure that each chemical container is labeled with the full chemical name, date wastes were first added to the container, and the potential hazard associated with the contents (corrosive, flammable, toxic, etc.). Containers must be kept closed, except for when adding wastes, and must be kept in good condition. It is required that any chemical container onsite be stored in a containment area, or on a containment pallet. Never leave a drum unlabeled, and never move drums to a different area without asking first. Ask the Environmental department for assistance whenever waste is generated or is expected to be generated.
Hazardous waste and non-hazardous waste should always be segregated. Avoid procedures that produce mixed wastes. Always make sure that waste is being placed in the correct container (read the label). Keep acids separate from bases, and vice versa. Never add water or diluted waste to a concentrated waste container. Universal waste (light bulbs, batteries, electronic equipment, etc.) and oil wastes should also be handled separately. Satellite accumulation areas cannot have more than 55 gallons of a specific waste in each area.
Preventing Mixed Waste
A "mixed waste" is a waste that contains any combination of chemical, radioactive or biological hazards. These "multi-hazardous" wastes are extremely difficult and expensive to dispose of because the treatment method for one of the hazards is often inappropriate for the treatment of another. A blue plastic drum is provided in the central waste area for universal waste, and separate pails are provided for small batteries (please tape both ends before disposal).
Before starting a project, determine if waste can be minimized by selecting a different material or choosing a process that will not generate or generate less chemical waste. Where possible, use less hazardous or non-hazardous agents. Consider the quality and type of waste produced when purchasing new equipment. Purchase equipment that enables the use of procedures that produce less waste.