Hazardous waste can be tough to deal with, but properly managing it is crucial to your business. It’s important to take time to discover the most common hazardous waste violations and how to deal with them to avoid costly OSHA fines and penalties. Doing so will also allow you to be more proactive in the future by making it easier to identify and prevent hazardous waste issues in the future.
Table of Contents
Top 7 Hazardous Waste Violations
1. Improper Labeling
Hazardous waste is dangerous. If you don’t label it properly, someone may get into it without realizing what they’re doing or what they’re going to be exposed to.
That’s why federal and state regulations require companies to clearly label all hazardous waste in their facilities.
You should make sure that your labels contain the following information to avoid this safety violation:
- The words “hazardous waste” in a clearly visible location
- The date the waste was created and its source
- The composition of the hazardous waste
- The classification of hazardous waste (flammable, toxic, corrosive, etc.)
2. Improper Disposal
You also can’t just dispose of hazardous waste in any location. If you attempt to do this, then you will be hit with heavy fines that could threaten the future of your company.
That’s why it’s always important to dispose of your hazardous waste using industry best practices.
You should also be sure to train your employees on what these practices look like in emergency and non-emergency situations. That way, they can follow the correct disposal practices regardless of the situation.
3. Lack of Emergency Planning
Legislative bodies also want to make sure that your company is prepared to deal with a hazardous waste emergency if one were to arise. That’s why it’s considered a regulatory offense if you don’t have an emergency plan or have one that’s not expansive enough.
You can avoid this unwanted scenario by creating an emergency plan that includes:
- A designated emergency coordinator
- Phone numbers and equipment listings
- Evacuation strategy and employee training plans
4. Open Containers
When left in an open environment, hazardous waste can be transmitted into the atmosphere. This can lead to a number of unwanted consequences, such as fires, toxic air, and explosions.
That’s why companies also need to make sure that they completely enclose any hazardous waste that they’re storing. All hazardous waste tanks and containers should be latched tightly and checked regularly for things like cracks and loose screws.
5. Lack of Training
Ultimately, your employees are going to be the people who interact with hazardous waste on a daily basis. That’s why they need to be adequately trained to handle this risk in a safe manner.
But it’s not enough to just train your employees once and forget about it. You need to give them an annual refresher course as well to make sure that they don’t forget anything and that they’re kept aware of any changes in policy that will impact how they should be interacting with hazardous waste.
6. Transportation Issues
Much can go wrong while transporting hazardous waste from your facility to the disposal location. That’s why regulations clearly define the responsibilities that companies have during the transportation of these materials.
To avoid fines, you need to use a manifest system during the transportation of hazardous waste. The transporter needs to sign a manifest stating that they accept the waste from your facility. And you need to maintain a copy of the final manifest that you get from the disposal facility once the job is completed.
7. Inspection Problems
If you want to avoid fines, it isn’t enough to just inspect your hazardous waste containment practices every so often. You need to create clear documentation of each inspection and include all of the data that regulators want.
For example, your inspections should include information like:
- The inspector’s name
- The date and time that it was completed
- What specifically was checked by the inspector
- Any potential problems that were spotted
You’ll also want to be sure to check with local and state regulations to see how often you need to conduct inspections. You don’t want to get fined for missing an inspection date without realizing it.
Hazardous Waste Fines and Penalties
It’s also worth taking a moment to review the hazardous waste fines and penalties you could encounter by failing to prepare your company. There are two main ones to keep your eye on.
1. EPA Civil Penalties
The Environmental Protection Agency has the power to impose civil penalties on businesses that violate legislation like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. It also is responsible for carrying out the Resource and Conservation and Recovery Act, which is what governs hazardous waste.
2. Criminal Charges
Depending on the severity of your hazardous waste malpractice, you could even be charged criminally. But these charges are usually only reserved for those who have either willfully or knowingly committed a hazardous waste violation.
But if you’re convinced of this, you could face personal fines or even imprisonment.
How to Avoid Hazardous Waste Violations
Hazardous waste violations are costly and dangerous. That’s why it’s crucial to do everything that you can to avoid them.
One of the most effective ways to do that is by partnering with a company that can double-check your practices and refreshes your team’s hazardous waste training. That way, you can have complete confidence that you’re not inadvertently making any violations.
Remember, just one violation can cost you up to over $90,000 per day. So the price of partnership generally pays for itself.
That’s why you should reach out to A-OTC. Whether you’re looking for hazardous waste training or consultation, we’ve got the expertise to help you get your company set up for success in this critical area.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help.