Responsibility for hazardous substances doesn’t end when they go out the door
Gone are the days when containers full of chemicals could be stacked away in a store room and largely forgotten about.
New legislation now requires businesses and organisations to keep an up to date inventory of all their hazardous substances, including waste materials. This is to ensure the risk they pose to employees and anyone else who may come into contact with them, as well as their environmental risk, can be managed.
From killing germs to enabling industrial processes, advancing scientific study and even tackling invasive species, the chemical compounds we use every day have helped build the modern world. But many of them are also hazardous substances and they can, and do, have hugely negative impacts when incorrectly used, stored, transported and disposed of.
One only needs to look to recent news reports such as the methyl methacrylate spill into Manukau Harbour in February, or an ammonia leaks and spills in Hawera and Hamilton last year to see how quickly things can go wrong. Even organisations which don’t deal primarily with chemicals or use industrial volumes can be at risk, such as the example of a chlorine spill at an Upper Hutt swimming pool in April.
That’s why it’s so important everyone understands their responsibilities when they use or store these substances, especially when it comes to disposing of them.
Your responsibility doesn’t end once they have been collected for disposal. As the owner of the chemicals, you are legally responsible for them right through to the point of safe disposal or destruction.
Choosing a certified contractor is vital. It will help to avoid risk of environmental harm as well to help reduce your liability.
As well as good old fashioned customer service, they should be able to provide you with:
- Evidence of their chemical handing qualifications
- Evidence of any additional standards they have like ISO standards.
- Evidence of disposal or destruction so that you have a record of meeting your legal obligations
If you are unsure about what chemicals you have on site, don’t leave it in the too hard basket. Now’s the time to check your inventory, make sure you are compliant and choose a qualified disposal partner that suits your needs.
Let’s ensure the impacts chemicals have on the world are positive.
Jason Richards is 3R Group’s National Programme Manager – Chemicals
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