The presence of hazardous materials is something that can easily derail a construction project. This imposes a cost in terms of time and money, to be sure. But this cost can be limited with a little bit of advance planning, and insurance, and it’s nothing against the cost of failing to detect a hazard which later goes on to inflict damage.
What is classed as Hazardous?
Hazardous substances have a clear definition, set out by the Health and Safety Executive: substances that are harmful to human health, or to the environment. Legally speaking, businesses have a duty of care to deal with their waste in a way that does not harm others, in much the same way as any other legal professional.
What are the different Hazards found on a construction site?
Several categories of hazard stand out as worthy of consideration. The list is not exhaustive, but it does cover the problems that the average firm is likely to run into.
Asbestos is a mineral that you’ll find in several natural fibres which were used in construction and insulation after the second world-war. The problem is that it’s dangerous when disturbed. When inhaled, the figures can find their way into the lungs, where they can inflict considerable damage, causing pleural disease and lung cancer – which can ultimately lead to asbestos claims from affected workers and third parties.
A whole host of chemicals used in construction can be dangerous when improperly handled. Workers should thus be provided with the masks, helmets and suits needed to deal with the chemicals being handled. When not in use, chemicals of this sort should be stored securely and labelled accordingly.
Among the most notorious kinds of harmful chemical are pesticides, which are designed to kill living things. Spillages can devastate environments and cause irreversible ecological damage – and thus pesticides should be stored with the same care and attention given to other chemicals.
You can think of batteries as little containers of harmful chemicals, which are used to generate electricity. Throughout the life of a battery, these chemicals are safely contained, unless the battery is abused. If batteries are thrown into landfill, the protective casing will deteriorate over years, until those chemicals are released. Consequently, batteries must be recycled at an appropriate facility. It’s the duty of the firm to see that this happens.