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Workers Handling Hazardous Waste

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Response / Training

Use all your five senses and your common sense.
Never assume, and prepare for the unexpected.

That’s what construction workers are being taught about hazardous waste on industrial sites during a two-day training course in Sault Ste. Marie.

“Take a look at this and tell me what you see,” said Cliff Holland, an instructor with Spill Management Inc. of Stoney Creek, Ont.

Workers Handling Hazardous Waste, Drum Handling

The 10 men, members of Local 1036 of the Laborers International Union of North America, were standing around a drum in the snow behind the Caswell Motor Inn.

They all said the drum of unknown chemicals was too full.

“This would indicate to me that the person filling it didn’t know what they were doing,” said Mr. Holland, which could mean the drum came from a small operation trying to get rid of waste illegally.

Then he taught them how to safely take a sample of the liquid for laboratory study and dispose of the drum.

The union decided it wanted to know more about handling hazardous materials, since workers on a construction or industrial site sometimes stumble across chemicals.

Jody Devoe, a safety representative, said members chose the topic and invited Mr. Holland. The course is being paid through union training funds.

In the past, workers would always be “cautious and leery” if they found chemicals on a site. But now, he said, they know the basics of what to do.

“If a tanker spills, we could be called out to help contain it,” Mr. Devoe said.

They learned how to test chemicals and identify various products that might be dumped along a roadside.

In case of a spill in a creek or ditch, they learned methods to slow down and control the spill.

It’s important laborers know how to protect themselves, said Mr. Holland, because some chemicals might be potential carcinogens – substances suspected of causing cancer.

Article By:
Lynne Olver, The Sault Star
The Sault Star
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

This article originally appeared in The Sault Star