The Importance of Hazardous Waste Inspections
Hazardous waste is any waste material that poses a potential threat to human health or the environment due to its chemical or physical properties. As such, the handling, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste are strictly regulated by various state and federal laws in order to minimize the risks to public health and the environment. Hazardous waste inspections are an essential part of ensuring compliance with these regulations and preventing incidents that could harm people or the environment. In this blog post, we will provide a checklist of items that should be included in a comprehensive hazardous waste inspection, as well as some administrative controls that can help organizations manage hazardous waste safely and effectively.
What are Hazardous Waste Inspections?
Hazardous waste inspections are a critical component of environmental compliance and occupational health and safety in Australia. These inspections help ensure that businesses are managing and disposing of hazardous waste in a safe and responsible manner.
Why are Hazardous Waste Inspections Important?
Firstly, hazardous waste can pose a significant risk to human health and the environment if not managed correctly. Hazardous waste can include chemicals, gases, liquids, and solids that are toxic, flammable, corrosive, or reactive. Exposure to hazardous waste can cause serious health problems, such as cancer, respiratory illness, and skin irritation. It can also contaminate soil, air, and water, leading to environmental damage.
Secondly, hazardous waste inspections are crucial for compliance with Australian legislation. In Australia, businesses that generate, transport, store, or dispose of hazardous waste are required to comply with federal, state, and territory regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, legal action, and damage to reputation.
Who Conducts Hazardous Waste Inspections?
Hazardous waste inspections are typically conducted by environmental health officers, workplace health and safety inspectors, and other regulatory authorities. These inspectors are trained to identify and assess potential hazards associated with hazardous waste, and to ensure that businesses are complying with relevant legislation and industry standards.
What’s the Law Say?
In Australia, the legislation concerning hazardous waste includes the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989, the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Regulations 2016 and The Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road & Rail (ADG Code). The ADG Code sets out the requirements for transporting dangerous goods by road or rail. These laws are designed to protect human health and the environment by regulating the import, export and transportation of hazardous waste and ensuring that it is managed safely and responsibly.
The legislation requires businesses that generate hazardous waste to obtain a license or permit to store, transport, and dispose of the waste. These licenses and permits are issued by state and territory environmental protection agencies and are subject to strict conditions and regulations.
The Australian government has also established the National Hazardous Waste Information Network (NHWIN) to provide a central repository for information on hazardous waste management. The NHWIN provides guidance on best practices for managing hazardous waste and helps to ensure that businesses are complying with regulatory requirements.
National Environment Protection (Movement of Controlled Waste between States and Territories) Measure 2018 – This measure provides a national framework for the movement of controlled waste between states and territories in Australia. It sets out the requirements for the transport, storage, and disposal of controlled waste, including hazardous waste.
Each state and territory in Australia has its own environmental protection legislation that covers hazardous waste. These laws set out the requirements for the management of hazardous waste, including the storage, transportation, and disposal of waste.
Overall, the legislation in Australia is aimed at ensuring that hazardous waste is managed in a safe and responsible manner, with a focus on protecting human health and the environment. It is important for businesses that generate hazardous waste to understand their obligations under the legislation and to work closely with regulatory authorities to ensure that they are managing their waste in compliance with the law.
How to Prepare for a Hazardous Waste Inspection
Businesses that generate, transport, store, or dispose of hazardous waste can prepare for a hazardous waste inspection by implementing an effective hazardous waste management plan. This plan should include the following:
Procedures for Identifying Hazardous Waste: One of the key components of managing hazardous waste is being able to identify it. This is essential for ensuring that the waste is handled, stored, and disposed of properly. Businesses that generate hazardous waste should have clear procedures in place for identifying it. This may involve conducting a chemical inventory assessment, reviewing safety data sheets, or using other methods to identify hazardous materials. By having clear procedures in place for identifying hazardous waste, businesses can minimize the risk of exposure to hazardous materials and ensure that they are managing the waste safely.
Handling Hazardous Waste: Once the hazardous waste has been identified, it is important to handle it properly to minimise the risk of exposure to hazardous materials. Handling procedures may include using appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and respirators, to protect workers from exposure to hazardous materials. It may also involve using specialised equipment, such as containment vessels or pumps, to safely transport the waste. By following proper handling procedures, businesses can minimise the risk of exposure to hazardous materials and ensure that the waste is being managed safely.
Storing Hazardous Waste: Businesses that generate hazardous waste must also have procedures in place for storing it safely. This may involve using specially designed containers that are compatible with the type of hazardous waste being stored. It may also involve storing the waste in a secure location that is designed to minimise the risk of spills or leaks. By following proper storage procedures, businesses can ensure that hazardous waste is being managed safely and minimise the risk of environmental damage or exposure to hazardous materials.
Disposing of Hazardous Waste: Disposing of hazardous waste is a critical component of managing it safely. Businesses that generate hazardous waste must comply with federal, state, and territory regulations for the disposal of hazardous waste. This may involve working with a licensed waste management company to transport and dispose of the waste safely. It may also involve treating the waste to make it less hazardous before it is disposed of. By following proper disposal procedures, businesses can minimize the risk of environmental damage and ensure that the waste is being managed safely.
Emergency Response Procedures: Despite the best efforts to manage hazardous waste safely, accidents can happen. That’s why it’s important for businesses to have emergency response procedures in place. These procedures should outline the steps to be taken in the event of a spill, leak, or other hazardous waste incidents. This may involve evacuating workers from the area, notifying regulatory authorities, and taking steps to contain the spill or leak. By having clear emergency response procedures in place, businesses can minimise the risk of harm to workers and the environment and ensure that hazardous waste incidents are managed effectively.
Below: Digital Hazardous Waste Inspection Checklist by DIGI CLIP mobile forms
DIGI CLIP mobile forms provide digital safety & compliance inspection checklists
What to Include in a Hazardous Waste Inspection Checklist?
A hazardous waste inspection checklist is an important tool for identifying potential hazards and ensuring that hazardous waste is being managed safely and responsibly. Here are some items that could be included in a hazardous waste inspection checklist:
Hazardous Waste Storage: Check that hazardous waste is stored in containers that are compatible with the waste and that are labelled with the contents, hazard class, and accumulation start date. Ensure that the containers are in good condition and are not leaking.
Waste Accumulation Areas: Check that waste accumulation areas are clearly marked and that they are secure from unauthorised access. Ensure that there are spill kits and emergency equipment nearby.
Waste Transportation: Check that hazardous waste is transported in accordance with the relevant regulations and that the transport containers are in good condition and properly labelled.
Waste Disposal: Check that hazardous waste is disposed of in accordance with the relevant regulations and that disposal records are being kept.
Training and Record-Keeping: Check that employees who handle hazardous waste have received training and that training records are being kept. Ensure that all required records are being kept, including waste manifests, shipping papers, and disposal records.
Emergency Preparedness: Check that emergency response procedures are in place and that employees are trained in emergency response. Ensure that emergency equipment is in good condition and is readily accessible.
Spill Prevention and Response: Check that spill prevention measures are in place and that employees are trained in spill response. Ensure that spill kits are readily accessible and that they are regularly inspected and restocked.
Personal Protective Equipment: Check that employees who handle hazardous waste are provided with appropriate personal protective equipment and that the equipment is being used properly.
Administration: Check that there are adequate policies, procedures and resources in place and that they are reviewed regularly and communicated. Ensure relevant waste management regulations and codes of practice are complied with.
These are just some of the items that could be included in a hazardous waste inspection checklist. The specific items included will depend on the nature of the hazardous waste being generated and the regulatory requirements that apply.
The Benefits of Digital Checklists for Hazardous Waste Inspections
Digital checklists are a powerful tool for streamlining the hazardous waste inspection process. These checklists can be accessed via a mobile device and can be used to record and track inspection data in real-time. Digital checklists can help inspectors to identify potential hazards quickly and accurately and ensure that businesses are complying with relevant legislation and industry standards.
Digital checklists can also help businesses to identify and address potential hazards before they become a problem. By regularly conducting self-inspections using digital checklists, businesses can proactively manage hazardous waste and avoid costly fines and legal action.
Hazardous waste inspections are necessary to ensure that businesses in Australia manage and dispose of hazardous waste in a safe and responsible manner. Hazardous waste inspections are conducted by environmental health officers, workplace health and safety inspectors, and other regulatory authorities who are trained to identify and assess potential hazards associated with hazardous waste. The Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 and the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Regulations 2016 govern hazardous waste inspections and management in Australia. Businesses that generate hazardous waste can prepare for a hazardous waste inspection by implementing an effective hazardous waste management plan that includes procedures for identifying, handling, storing, and disposing of hazardous waste, as well as emergency response procedures. Overall, the legislation in Australia is aimed at ensuring that hazardous waste is managed in a safe and responsible manner, with a focus on protecting human health and the environment. It is important for businesses to understand their obligations under the legislation and to work closely with regulatory authorities to ensure that they are managing their waste in compliance with the law.
DIGI CLIP mobile forms – What Do We Do?
DIGI CLIP mobile forms is an easy-to-use inexpensive digital checklist & inspection app and cloud-based software. DIGI CLIP is used across different industries to capture safety and compliance data and other information to help improve safety, compliance and operational efficiencies.
DIGI CLIP will allow you to remove paper reporting from your business – no more lost, late missing or illegible checklists. The DIGI CLIP mobile app allows images, comments and digital signatures to be added to checklists from a phone or tablet.
DIGI CLIP has a Form Library where you can access all of the above forms and more for your use. All checklists and inspections can be edited or updated to meet your risk and operational requirements.
DIGI CLIP also has a safety management module called Safety Tracker. Safety Tracker is our incident and hazard reporting and management software application that adds to DIGI CLIP mobile forms. Incidents and hazards are reported via the DIGI CLIP app or directly on the cloud-based software. Incident and quality Investigations and hazard assessments are completed on templates provided by DIGI CLIP and corrective and closeout actions are tracked by the cloud-based software.
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Streamline your pre-start and load safety checks with the DIGI CLIP checklist and inspection app today.
- Department of Environment and Energy – States and Territories Hazardous Waste Requirements
- SafeWork Australia – WHS Duties Related to Hazardous Chemicals
- Environmental Protection Authority Victoria – Hazardous Waste
- Australian Dangerous Goods Code
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, financial, or other professional advice, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a qualified professional. The author and publisher disclaim any liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential damages arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided in this article. Readers are advised to seek the advice of a qualified professional for any specific concerns or questions related to their business operations or compliance with relevant regulations.
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