Self-Policing Your Industrial Hazardous Materials Management
Hazardous waste and facilities managers are navigating through extraordinary times. As global pandemics, flooding, and tornadoes interrupt business operations, hazardous waste is piling up. The delay in the disposal of hazardous materials is increasing public health risks.
Interruptions to hazardous material disposal are only part of the problem. Hazardous waste management practice standards are sliding. Resources are strained owing to an increase in employee illness and telecommuting. This means inexperienced or untrained personnel are handling materials and training other personnel in hazardous waste management.
In the face of these safety risks, hazardous waste managers can protect their companies in several ways:
Use Alternative Hazardous Waste Management Methods
Hazardous materials handlers feel cornered into a box. Some regular operators of hazardous waste management disposal have suspended operations. Businesses, of course, are prohibited from using residential hazardous waste collection centers. A company typically in compliance with hazardous materials management regulations could find itself being sanctioned if onsite exposures create a risk to public health.
In lieu of regular collection services, hazardous waste management services can be outsourced to specialists in hazardous waste from business and industrial facilities. These centers have measures in place to safely process hazardous waste. Without disposal, heavy-metals such as lead or arsenic, asbestos, and PCBs could reach dangerous concentrations. In such a case, inspectors may deem your materials pose an imminent public health risk.
Conduct a Self-Audit
Environmental authorities encourage businesses to self-police themselves to protect human health and the environment. Through a self-audit, your company can identify and voluntarily rectify any environmental violations. These actions our self disclosed to regulatory authorities. If you are found to not be in compliance, through these auditing and disclosure actions, penalties and criminal action can be avoided.
Cooperate With the Environmental Health and Safety Team
The EH&S team is trained to identify threats to an employee and public health. The team's lawyer is qualified to provide guidance on waste management disposal practices during unusual times when standard business practices are not in place.
If you fail to safely dispose of hazardous waste and consequently create public health risks, considerations of penalties and criminal sanctions will partly focus on your ability to prove limited resource allocation during a pandemic, or other force majeure or Act of God events. Your best offense is to find alternative, compliant ways to self-audit and dispose of hazardous waste. Otherwise, you leave your environmental compliance record to the 'discretion' of inspectors.