Bulletin 117 November 2008 What is Hazmat?
- Posted at: September 25, 2021 04:26:12

Hazmat is a term representing Hazardous Material such as any solid, liquid or gas that can harm people or the environment. The equivalent term Hazmat is “Dangerous Goods”. Hazardous Materials and/or Dangerous Goods may be radioactive, flammable, explosive, toxic, corrosive, biohazardous, an oxidizer, an asphyxiant, a pathogen or an allergen. We have all seen environmental workers or firefighters wearing with the big yellow or white garments know as “Hazmat Suits” when working with or near toxic substances. The hazmat suit is usually combined with a breathing apparatus and can protect the user from chemical, nuclear and biological agents as well as extremely high temperatures. All too often, personnel wearing these suits find it very strenuous due to the lack of flexibility and poor ventilation, thus are usually limited to 2 hours at a time wearing them. There are three different levels of hazmat suits, level A, B or C depending on what the task involves and what toxic substances will be in contact. You will often notice emergency response personnel entering area’s contaminated with toxic substances such as asbestos. Each suit is designed with a manufactured device to protect the respiratory system of the wearer in order to ensure full protected, including design feature to protect the skin from dermal hazard agents. In Canada there many different Act, Codes and Standards that address hazardous materials. Two such are the federal legislations the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (regulation 860) and the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act which protect workers as well as the public form hazardous materials. The WHMIS regulation has three elements: labels, material safety data sheets and worker education and instruction program. All Canadian suppliers must provide hazard information in the form of labels and MSDS sheets. This is a condition of sale for all hazardous material in Canada. Under the WHMIS regulation there are 8 hazard classification symbols that a toxic substance may be classified under. The employer has a responsibility to provide their workers with WHMIS training.

The purpose of the TDG act is to protect the general public from leaks and spills of dangerous goods. The main elements of TDG include identification, training and safety standards. Dangerous good being transported are must be identified through safety marking with shipping documents. There are nine classes of TDG controlled goods. Whenever hazardous materials are present, hazard control is broken down into three general methods, the first being engineering. This is the preferred and most effective method of control designed to typically eliminate or minimizes risk of injury. One example would be a direct exhaust ventilation system. Second, Administrative controls which refers to all the written policies and procedures for supervisors and workers to follow. An example would be a written safe procedure for handling xylene. Administrative controls are required in all workplaces. The third method of control is personal protective equipment. This method is often referred to as a “last resort”, however if used properly, will help the worker extensively. A common example of this is the use of a respirator when a worker may be exposed to toxic chemicals. Pursuant to section 79 of Regulation 851/90 “ the employer shall ensure that a worker required to wear or use any protective clothing, equipment or device shall be instructed and trained in its care and use before wearing the protective clothing, equipment or device. An MOL inspector will typically issue an order if the employer cannot provide proof of respiratory fit testing training. Contact us if this training is required at your workplace.

This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, the bulletin publishers and authors do not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current and shall not be liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the bulletin information. Bulletin reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of Firepoint Inc. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. See www.firepoint.ca or call 905-874-9400.

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