What is HazMat in Construction?
A wide range of hazardous materials (HazMat) can be found at a construction site, and if you work in the industry you may have noticed or encountered several of them before. Some HazMat examples are;
These materials may cause serious health issues in workers or fires or explosions in the workplace if they are disturbed or notmanaged appropriately.
For instance, renovating or demolishing buildings containing asbestos can release asbestos fibres and inhalation to asbestos fibres may cause chronic health problems; including lung disease, cancer or even death.
These are some common examples of HazMat, but keep in mind there are several harmful substances that can be easily found at construction sites. In fact, according to Alberta Provincial Summary “Workplace Injury, Disease and Fatality Statistics”, 2641 disabling injuries were reported as “Exposure to harmful substances” in 2018.
Why is Important to Have a Hazmat Consultant?
In Alberta, according to Occupational Health and Safety Code Part 4, employers have a legal obligation to protect workers from exposure to hazardous materials. When these hazardous materials become a concern, and the appropriate work procedures are not implemented or abided by, not only can costly delays occur, but health risks for workers and others will be increased.
Having a HazMat consultant on deck offers you a means of providing valuable advice and help to ensure that construction companies are meeting all the legislative requirements, protecting their workers health and safety, as well as minimizing unexpected cost in the future.
What Can a Hazmat Consultant do During Construction?
A well-qualified consultant can provide an appropriate abatement strategy and manage all steps of the whole process including but not limit to,
1. Identifying potential hazardous materials
Before any renovation or demolition project starts, a hazmat survey can be conducted by a qualified professional to identify building materials that require specific removal and disposal procedures. For example, building materials suspected of containing asbestos will be collected and tested, and other hazardous materials such as lead paint, mercury, chemicals, and mold can be assessed and inspected prior to starting the project.
2. Preparing Abatement Specifications
A HazMat consultant may also make recommendations on abatement specifications in minimizing the potential for any hazardous materials and associated risks. To assist the constructor, preparing specifications can include handling distribution and removal procedures for different hazardous materials that are required by the governmental regulations. For example, with different risk level of asbestos abatement activities, there are different specifications to proceed.
3. Site Inspection and Air Monitoring
Properly inspecting a construction site for hazardous materials is extremely important. With the help of a certified consultant, it allows you to listen to the concerns of the workers, identify and minimize the potential risks for workers, ensure all safety-work procedures are followed, etc. Besides, the collection of air samples by a third-party during abatement is necessary to all parties involved. When there is a conflict of interest, air monitoring should not be conducted by the asbestos abatement contractor. Your hazmat consultant will be a great fit for advising you on the abatement process.
In addition to this, providing training to workers, managing hazardous materials for construction projects, providing reports and project closeout, are the advisory services that a HazMat consultant can help with.
Every company is bound to run into problems, consulting firms are contracted to solve them. Your hazmat consultant is there to help if you have any concerns about your projects.