If you don't follow protocol when it comes to how to label hazardous waste, you're running several risks. That includes fines for improperly packaging your waste, but more importantly, you put anyone in contact with that waste in potential danger. Labels on hazardous material are meant to alert people in a clear, easy way about the dangers of that waste, and if the labels aren't accurate—or are missing altogether—people have no way of getting that information.

Label Hazardous Waste Properly: Everything You Need to Know

The Hazardous Waste Label Itself

Every drum filled with hazardous materials requires the yellow hazardous waste label.

That label includes important information, such as the following:

  • The words "hazardous waste."
  • All your generator information.
  • Any relevant EPA hazardous waste code.
  • Proper DOT shipping name.
  • Accumulation start date.

Does the Accumulation Start Date of Hazardous Waste Matter?

Yes! A large quantity generator has to ship all hazardous material every ninety days. Therefore, the label must include that important accumulation start date.

If you're ever inspected or audited, this number must not only be present on the label but accurate. Failure to comply with this regulation can bring financial consequences or even stricter penalties, depending on the severity of the offense and if this is your first violation versus being a persistent problem.

Use of the Proper Placard on Hazardous Waste

The placard is going to contain crucial information, such as whether the contents of the drum are flammable, corrosive, oxidizers, etc.

For example, some hazardous materials can't get wet. Ensuring the placard is properly created with a correct EPA waste code would tell firefighters to use foam rather than water if there were an accident involving that waste.

Without this proper placard, everyone would be put at needless risk if anything unexpected happened during transport of that waste.

In this way, proper labeling is not about trying to dodge fines or avoid punitive actions. It's truly about helping ensure the safety of anyone who comes in contact with that waste.

Ensure the Label and the Hazardous Waste Manifest Match

All the information on the labels you create should match the hazardous waste manifests. For one, this helps implement accuracy in regards to what information is placed on both the label and the manifest. But two, it potentially helps first responders in case of an accident. If firefighters or police officers can't get safely to the drum, they can read the manifest and know how best to approach this particular accident. And the same if true vice versa. If they can't reach the manifest, the pertinent information will be included on that yellow label on the drum itself.

Use Common Sense When It Comes to Hazardous Waste Labels

Always follow the letter of the law when it comes to these labels, but also make sure to execute good judgment. For example, the label needs to be in a clear and visible place on the drum. That way, if emergency response crews (or anyone, for that matter) needs to get the information contained on that label, it is as easy and convenient as possible.

There should also be a level of consistency regarding these labels. That is, everyone creating and dealing with these labels should be using the same system. This helps ensure less ambiguity about what the information on the label actually means.

Key Takeaways

  • Every hazardous waste label should identify the drum as hazardous, and it should include other information such as your generator details, hazardous waste codes, DOT shipping name, and accumulation state date.
  • Hazardous waste is potentially very dangerous. Yes, proper labeling helps you avoid fines, but it also keeps people safe in case of an accident.
  • Be careful, accurate, consistent, and logical about how you label your hazardous waste.

For more information about how to properly and safely label your hazardous waste, please feel free to contact a representative of MCF Environmental Services, an established, reputable waste management Atlanta company.