5 Consequences of Mismanaging Hazardous Waste
Managing hazardous waste properly is essential to the success of your business. However, handling explosives, gases, and other dangerous substances is not easy. Mismanagement of these materials can compromise workers’ safety and security, possibly exposing employees to explosions, spills, and other situations that could be life-threatening. Apart from these dangers, hazardous material mismanagement has penalties under the law. Your business must follow all local, provincial, and federal hazardous waste regulations. Unfortunately, many companies find it easy to run afoul of regulations; although not intentional, the consequences may be severe. So, what are the consequences of mismanaging your hazardous waste?
Workplace & Employee Safety
One of the most significant risks associated with hazardous waste management is the potential for employee injury or death due to mismanagement of hazardous waste streams. Spills, fires, explosions, caustic reactions, and exposure to toxic chemicals are all potential risks if hazardous waste is mishandled.
Many businesses deal with very toxic chemicals that MUST be handled with care and according to their respective Safety Data Sheets (SDS). The Safety Data Sheet provides information about the product for safe handling. In addition, companies must implement proper procedures and protocols for employees authorized to touch and move hazardous waste to minimize the potential risk and keep people safe.
Ongoing training is required for hazardous waste generators to ensure compliance with regulations.
Businesses that generate hazardous waste must be well-versed in the hazardous waste regulations. Suppose the harmful and potentially deadly waste is mismanaged, or the business does not have a designated waste management company to collect and dispose of the waste properly. In that case, issues may go unresolved, resulting in an emergency response situation. This can make daily operations slow and inefficient, especially if a compliance calendar is not in place.
Hazardous waste is harmful not only to people but to the environment as well. Companies must consider the environmental effects of a hazardous substance release. Toxic waste harms animals, humans, and the environment every day. In Canada, Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) regulations control and track transboundary movements of hazardous waste and hazardous recyclable material between Canada and other countries.
When the waste is mishandled, pollution and contamination are possible and can negatively impact our environment. This, in turn, threatens wildlife and even the health and safety of the people within the community. Therefore, do your part to inform your workers about environmentally friendly practices to avoid contributing to environmental disasters. Let them know that they must dispose of hazardous materials in designated facilities. Failing to do so hurts your company’s reputation, as you become a threat to the people and wildlife in your local community.
One of the most fearful times for any business is when a government regulator walks in the door requesting to inspect your facility. Companies that generate hazardous wastes need to be particularly concerned if they have not maintained compliance with their hazardous waste generator requirements. In Canada, the Ministry of Environment is tasked with regulating the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. The Environmental Management Act (EMA) prohibits the introduction of waste into the environment in a way that will cause pollution. The Hazardous Waste Regulation (HWR) addresses the proper handling and disposal of hazardous wastes under the EMA.
Organizations are breaking compliance when not following regulations. These failures to comply eventually catch up to companies, and the consequences can be dire, including significant fines, costly legal fees, facility shutdowns, and worst cases, imprisonment.
Many companies have had issues with CEPA (Canadian Environmental Protection Act) over hazardous waste violations. Companies like FedEx and Walmart have had significant and well-publicized issues with environmental regulators over the past few years. The cost of fines and legal expenses coupled with the damage to reputation can devastate companies and run into millions of dollars.
No matter what your hazardous waste management issue, Global Hazmat can help. We handle every situation with care, dedication, and a commitment to outstanding customer service. You can rely on us! Need training? We can help!