Working in the lift industry poses a number of risks, due to the nature of the environment and tools used, however another area of concern is waste, particularly hazardous waste. Those working with dangerous substances have a duty of care to prevent waste from entering the environment and reduce on-site risks. We take a look at hazardous waste in more detail and your responsibility when dealing with harmful substances.
What is hazardous waste?
According to the government, ‘waste is generally considered hazardous if it (or the material or substances it contains) are harmful to humans or the environment’. There are different types of hazardous waste, including those that are corrosive, flammable, toxic, oxidising and so on. Some items that fall within those categories, common to the lift industry, include lubricating and gear oil, light tubes and asbestos brake lining.
Risks of hazardous waste
If hazardous waste is improperly used, stored and transported, it could lead to potential accidents, which could have an effect on the environment and human health. Accidents can range from trivial spillages to major fires involving serious air pollution. Minor spillages may lead to slips and falls and therefore would require a treatment to remove the substance. More severe spillages however, can lead to pollution of land and or water, which could have devastating consequences for plants and animals relying on the water supply. When it comes to health problems caused by hazardous waste, this is dependent on the level of toxicity, but could include skin irritations, infections and cancer.
Managing hazardous waste
When managing waste on site you should ensure it is dealt with in the correct way (preventing unauthorised escape into the environment) so you do not commit an offence under the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005. For instance, it is a legal offence to mix different types of hazardous waste, or mix hazardous with non-hazardous waste, which is why it should always be correctly stored in clearly labelled containers. Waste should only be moved from a site to a licensed person with either a non-hazardous waste transfer note or a hazardous waste consignment note, detailing the type of waste, quantity, description and so on. Providing this information can be confusing, so speak to your HSE advisor or waste contractor if you need help.
To avoid any negative impact on the global and local environment, it is extremely important that the law is followed to ensure best practice when managing waste, otherwise you could face fines or prosecution.
To keep your knowledge up to date on hazardous waste, take our toolbox talk here.
For more information on waste from the Environmental Agency, click here.