Most businesses that utilize hazardous materials for one reason or another are fairly good about placing hazmat placards in appropriate locations, at least initially. Problems arise over time, however. These include the failure to keep placards current for a number of different reasons. The failure to maintain current placards exposes employees and others to dangers. In addition, it exposes a business enterprise to liability, both on the regulatory front and if an employee or other individual is injured.
⚠ Failure to Keep Hazmat Placards Current
A common error surrounding hazmat placards is the failure of a business to keep them up-to-date. There is a real tendency for a business to put up hazmat placards one time and forget about them.
There are two key reasons why this strategy, or lack of one, puts a business at risk. First, the reality is that a business evolves. More often than not, the hazardous materials a business has on site changes over time. Therefore, a hazmat placard put up at a particular point in time will not necessarily comport with the warnings necessary to match the actual hazardous materials present on the premises.
Second, government authorities in Canada do alter and change the requirements for hazmat placards with some degree of regularity. While an effort is made by these authorities to advise businesses and others of the changes, and new placards are produced, word does not always get around.
⚠Establish a Safety Review Scheme
The best way to ensure that placards remain appropriately current and suitable to the needs of a business is to schedule a company safety review scheme. Such a review can, and should be, broad ranging. It should not include just a review a placards.
The timing of this type of review is fundamental. In the final analysis, a year is probably to long of a period between reviews. A monthly safety review of this nature is probably unnecessary and runs the risk of becoming pro forma rather than substantial. A quarterly safety review is likely to be a more ideal time frame to consider a variety of safety issues at a business, including the currency of hazardous material placards.
⚠Designate a Safety Coordinator
On a related note, a business is well served designated a specific team member to oversee safety review, including hazardous material placard compliance. By taking this step, issues regarding matters like up-to-date placards will not easily fall through the cracks. There are more resources available at ICC Compliance Center for further references.