Universal Waste Storage

Universal Waste Storage

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Join HSI Chief Safety Officer Jill James as she visits environmental health and safety professionals in their workplaces to explore important workplace safety topics. This video discusses what universal waste is, how to store it, and how to manage this type of waste.

Video Transcript:

Hi I'm Jill, Chief Safety Officer with HSI. I'm a former OSHA inspector and I'm here to help you identify and correct workplace hazards.

For this series we are at the beautiful Monterey Bay Aquarium to show you that no matter where you work, safety training is for everyone.

Whether you're in a medical clinic lab Hospital manufacturing facility or at an aquarium you produce Universal waste how you manage that ways to protect people and the environment is critically important.

Today, we're with Jeremiah, the Safety Manager here at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Jeremiah could you talk with us about what types of waste is considered a universal waste? Right so anywhere in your facility if you have lighting or you have battery-operated equipment you're gonna produce universal waste. We're talking about light bulbs, alkaline batteries, lead acid batteries, different things like that that. They're part of your normal everyday operations, and we've produced these wastes they've got to be handled properly stored properly and disposed of in appropriate manner.

Okay very good and so what sort of steps can people go through to try to reduce that type of waste to begin with? Right so let's to manage the best practices try to manage your generation rate and try to reduce it as best that you can and there's ways to get help with doing that. You could contact the lighting specialist, a lighting vendor and they can come and do an assessment to tell you what types of lights you could switch to. They may be more efficient so you don't cycle through bulbs as fast that will reduce your generation rate. If you have battery-operated equipment you know it's really popular now to have battery-operated paper towel dispensers you see those everywhere because people don't want to touch those types of things. If you could hardwire those units its low-voltage hardwired of those units then you don't have to replace those batteries on a regular basis.

Good – good tip so let's say you've done that and you've reduced your waste as much as possible then how do you manage it once you've collected it? Right so first of all you want to have a designated waste accumulation area, and this can be for all types of waste hazardous waste universal waste environmental waste e-waste but you need to have a designated place that people know where they could take these things. Where they're stored appropriately for a couple different reasons. One so you can manage it you should have someone on your site that's trained to manage these wastes. There's all kinds of state and local regulations as well as federal but also so in a first responder scenario they know where that stuff is located so if you had a fire or an earthquake or something like that they would know either to stay out of that area or to be able to manage that waste area appropriately.

And so we're standing in your universal waste storage area right now, and so how do you segregate that waste assuming it needs to be segregated? Right so one of the important parts of managing your waste is to make sure that those waste streams are segregated, that you're not cross contaminating. Say you've got compact fluorescent light bulbs and you've got halogen bulbs and if they break you're gonna cross contaminate those items they'll be tougher to dispose of and it may make them hazardous waste at that point. So you want to make sure that you have light type wastes in certain containers so incandescent bulbs in one compact fluorescents and another LEDs in a different container. The same with your batteries, you want your alkaline batteries stored a certain way. Some of your lithium batteries for example they need to be taped and you need to cover the posts on those because they can start a fire. So all those types of wastes need to be segregated in their own specific container so that you don't cross contaminate and co-mingle waste.

And then, I'm guessing there's something to do with labeling mix you probably have to label those containers or your collecting so tell us about that. So there's all kinds of standards of course for hazardous waste labeling and you need to practice some of those standards as well when you're labeling your universal waste. So you want to identify the type of waste you want to identify who's generated that waste as the facility storing the waste and you also want to have an accumulation start date depending on how much waste you produce you have a certain amount of time to dispose of that waste and so by having an accumulation start date, whenever you started adding something of that then you put a date on it that helps the facility verify and also helps to regulators verify that you're in compliance with those standards. And those are probably different across the country depending on what the local regulations are. Right so it's important like I said to have someone trained in your facility that really is an expert because it does vary from state to state, county to county, although there are federal regulations that cover this. There's the alphabet soup of Sarah FGRA on and on all the safety acronyms with environmental right? So these are regulated by different bodies and so if you can follow these basic practices though it'll help you keep your facility in compliance and it'll really make that job easier for your in-house expert.

Well thank you Jeremiah thanks for sharing that important information for us. As a reminder that we all need to be storing our universal waste regardless of where our place of employment is.

I hope you gained a safety skill today. If you know someone who needs this go ahead and pass it on.

Safety is everyone's business.

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