By Mariann Cook Andrews and Erin Jeffries, Outreach and Education, Hazardous Waste & Toxics Reduction Program
How do you know what’s in a box of cereal? You look at the label. How do you know what’s in a container of dangerous waste? You look at the labels. What happens when the labels aren’t there? People can get hurt.
Imagine responders arriving at the scene of a fire. They see spilled drums of waste and chemicals, but there aren’t any labels to tell them whether they are ignitable. The fire approaches the spills – are the responders in danger of explosion? In this situation, the absence of labels could shift a manageable incident to a major disaster.
Missing or incorrect labels is the most common violation found during dangerous waste compliance inspections.
Our new, four-minute video helps facilities with dangerous waste understand how to label it properly:
A 2013 survey showed that Washington businesses place a high value on keeping workers safe. Safe handling of dangerous waste includes proper labeling, management, and disposal.
Labeling problems are easy to avoid. Three items must be on every container of dangerous waste:
- The words “Dangerous Waste” or “Hazardous Waste”
- Accumulation start date (when the first drop of waste goes into the container)
- Risk label for each risk the waste poses (flammable, explosive, etc.)
Learn more about dangerous waste labeling
- Visit our Label Dangerous Waste web page
- Download and print your own labels
- Read the Focus Sheet: Risk Labels Required for Dangerous Waste Containers
Las Etiquetas (Labels in Spanish)Etiquetas para las materiales peligrosas y la seguridad personal
Also learn how to keep containers closed in the video Dangerous Waste Containers: An Open and Shut Case.