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Article critique: Hazardous Material Handling

by Eleanor Perry


Hazardous materials sometimes may get in the wrong shipment while being transported in to a company. However, several measures have been identified as safe and secure in the transportation of materials in big companies. It has become a company policy to ensure that chemical substances are screened for safety compliance before entering a company. Jess Kraus, in his article “an overview of hazmat framework”  keeps us informed on the most pertinent matters and issues taken into consideration while handling chemical and other poisonous substances within an organization. The author takes the reader through the major steps taken to ensure that each and every organization keeps track of all its chemical inventory so as to avoid any dangers that may arise out of improper handling.

Handling of hazardous materials

A response to any shipment that arrives in a company involves the environmental health and safety staffs stake in each and every little bit of substance suspected to be hazardous. As Kraus (2004) illustrates, the EHS staffs involvement is felt everywhere starting with the major procurement offices in which case they have to analyze each substance taking it through a serious verification procedure. The procedure snakes its way through the system ensuring that all details of the substance are traced and recorded. Finally a documentation is made of the findings made on the safety levels of the substance. This process has been repeatedly used to the extent that it is described by Kraus (2004) as the “de facto process for managing compliance”. This makes compliance to Hazardous material handling a tough task for EHS managers who have to cope with limited resources and personnel.

The article is based on the standard procedures for avoiding compromising situations in which case if well followed, the organization is able to avoid liabilities and government actions such as closure of the company. Thus an individual must take it upon themselves- especially the EHS management and the emergency responders to any incident involving hazardous materials.

The issues raised in the article tend to lean more on the handling of the hazardous material in which case there are several factors that are to be considered. The inventory is the first point of reference for the organization. Any organization orders stocks according to its stake in the industry and thus the main factor to consider here will be size. The size of the company ultimately determines the level of reviews undertaken. This means that the processes undertaken by the EHS staff in the verification of hazardous material will depend on the size of the company. If the company is big, then the expectations are that tight measures will be taken on any hazardous material and vice versa.

Secondly,  when it comes to the inventory, the information gathered is of vital importance to the organization. This means that all details of each and every chemical substance are recorded and can be availed on demand. (Kraus 2004). The personnel should be in a position to report and document any unlabeled or otherwise suspected containers. This may help during the evaluation stage where the management may decide to do away with the substances for being overly suspicious or maintain them after taking the necessary measures.

Kraus gives a final issue on the inventory in which case there is the emergence of data handling as it pertains the Hazmat. All substances evaluated must be recorded in a MSDS sheet which according to Kraus must be exact matches with the manufacturers details and information. Kraus indicates that the MSDS must be made easily available and they must be up to date since the materials keep changing in both volume and content. Within this issue, Kraus identifies several modalities that must be put in place to ensure that the information gathered is safely stored and presented in times of need.

The first of these steps is to ensure that the substance passes all NFPA and HMIS safety protocols. Secondly, the material has to undergo transportation and in this case Kraus argues that all the necessary data pertaining its “classification” in the NFPA and HMIS rating and its packaging as well as other procedures prior to its transportation must be provided to the transport company.  This is usually done to ensure that the information gathered on the data sheets (MSDS) is up to date. With this in mind, the handling individuals may prevent risks of chemical exposure due to prior knowledge of such chemical materials within the container. It may also  avert the problems that arise out of transportation and disposal of potentially hazardous chemical substances.  Finally, it may assist the EHS staff in ensuring that all the information required by the government and other regulatory bodies is fully up to date and may also be used by the management for training purposes which in turn keeps the staff in the know as far as the handling of  Hazardous materials are concerned.


The above mentioned issues are only but a few of what the hazardous materials management entails. Moreover, the issues mentioned should be taken into consideration since they can help the environmental health and safety management a great deal in the prevention of injuries and unforeseen government actions. In view of this,  the management of a large organization must always ensure that there are adequate measures put in place to ensure that nothing goes wrong in the handling of harmful chemical substances. All the data pertaining a specific chemical substance should be kept up to date and a follow up on the storage and distribution of such materials should be maintained in a MSDS sheet which eventually translates to a serious safety precaution as described by Kraus (2004).  However, the issues raised above may not fully be followed and it is up to the management to instill a sense of care for property and protection against such harmful substances by ensuring that all substances are labeled and handled with care by employees.

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Kraus, J. (2004).  An Overview Of Hazmat Framework. Pollution engineering. 60-62.

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