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Spill containment barriers can prevent a minor mishap from becoming a major disaster. Portable oil containers make it easy to transport a dangerous material between locations. But these solutions don’t exist in isolation. Instead, your team will need to follow a comprehensive checklist to ensure safety.

Define the Timeline of the Move

You need to implement strict parameters when moving hazardous substances. This means knowing how long the move is likely to take and assigning key points along the timeline for events during the move.

For example, you’ll need to define the full timeline for the project – i.e., how long you expect to take to complete the move – and you’ll also need to break this down into incremental points along the way. This might include the expected time to complete packaging and loading, or unloading at the destination. Building this timeline will help your teams to assess their progress during the project.

List the Personnel Involved

Hazardous materials should never be handled by just one single team member. Instead, you will need to make sure that you have a team of qualified personnel ready to see the project through to completion.

Make a list of these team members, including their qualifications and credentials. Ensure everyone knows what their own responsibilities are during the project. Assign a leader to the project if required, but remember that all members of the team will have duties of their own.

Check Authorization

When handled properly, transport of a hazardous material should not be a dangerous project. However, there are inherent risks that need to be managed, so your team will need to ensure they have the authorization to continue.

All team members should be aware of the chain of command – i.e., they should know who they need to seek authorization from. Make sure this authorization is granted by someone with the appropriate authority before the move begins.

Gather Protective Equipment

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees safety and protection in the workplace for the Department of Labor. OSHA operates a number of different guidelines relating to protective equipment, such as gloves, goggles, and skin coverings. These guidelines differ according to the nature of the material that is being transported – strong acid or base liquids will carry different requirements than noxious gases, for example.

It is critical that all members of the team have the proper spill protection equipment. This includes all personal protective equipment, as well as solutions such as berms and containment platforms.

Identify Known and Unknown Materials

Make a list of all the different materials that are being moved. Your facility should already have a thorough inventory of all the materials that are used on-site, so this part of the checklist should be relatively easy to complete. However, your team needs to be aware of the hazards of unknown materials.

Unknown materials may include legacy materials that have been left on the site for many years. Alternatively, these materials may be drums of hazardous waste that lack labels or catalog entries. Handle these unknown materials with great care, exercising caution at every stage and using a full set of personal protective equipment.

Assess Packaging Materials

Packaging is critical. Not only does this packaging provide information on the makeup of the hazardous material, but it also protects team members from spillages and other potentially dangerous events.

Your team should take the time to assess the state of the packaging. Is there any evidence of damage to the packaging? Does it appear that some of the material has leaked from the container? This could cause a serious hazard to team members, so all containers must be checked thoroughly.

Deploy Spill Containment Barriers

Secondary containment is an important factor during the transit of hazardous materials. These spill containment barriers and other protection equipment will prevent a serious incident from occurring in the event that hazardous materials are spilled.

These berms are robust pieces of equipment that can hold hazardous materials if they are released accidentally. The idea is to stop these materials from flowing into the local water table or causing environmental damage. Ensure these containment solutions are properly deployed.

Refer to Event Timeline

Once the move is underway, make sure everyone has access to the event timeline discussed above. This provides an important reference point that your team can use to check its progress.

Any deviations from the planned timeline should be recorded. This means management teams can plan their operations around this new timeline.

Reassess Packaging Materials

Portable oil containers, gas canisters, and other forms of packaging for hazardous materials are highly durable. They are designed to protect teams and individuals from the materials held within, so they should resist wear and tear and damage even if they are dropped or knocked.

Despite this, it’s still important that all packaging and containers are checked at the beginning and at the end of the transportation project. This helps teams to confirm that no hazardous materials have been released and that there are no immediate health and safety concerns.

Complete Sign-Off

Once complete, the transportation of hazardous materials will need to be signed off. This means the team will need to report to whoever has jurisdiction over the project – perhaps a team leader or a member of the upper management team – and inform them that the project has been completed to the appropriate standard.

There may be paperwork to be filled out and filed. This paperwork will provide a record of the movement of the material, which can be used for auditing and assessment in the future.

Risk Management Is the Aim When Transporting Hazardous Materials

There will always be an element of risk involved when transporting hazardous materials. However, with the right approach – and the right equipment, such as personal protective equipment and spill containment barriers – your team can greatly manage and mitigate this risk. Use this checklist to help you achieve a safe set of best practices in your workplace.