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Improving hazmat transport safety

Minnesota employees who handle hazardous materials must follow complex procedures set down by their employer and the law. This is for their own protection, the protection of their company and the safety of those in the vicinity. There is the potential that many would suffer if hazardous materials were mishandled. Experts have pointed to several well-publicized disasters in the recent news as cases where handling techniques should have been improved. Some have put forward the idea of using the chain of custody process as a way to reduce the incidence of such disasters.

The chain of custody concept has seen years of use in other fields, but its application to the world of hazmat transport could have potential. The technology exists to track every shipment of hazardous material in the country, from its creation through any number of destinations.

This would allow an unprecedented level of control and security over the material. Since the material could only be handed off to a responsible party in a proper facility, the chances of it being lost or mishandled would be lessened. Constant monitoring of the shipment would be possible through the entire length of its journey. Any breach in the container or spillage of material could be instantly detected by the proper monitoring system, and reports by satellite would allow immediate response from prepared personnel.

Employees who have been injured in a workplace accident involving hazardous materials will of course want to obtain medical treatment as quickly as possible. They may be eligible for workers' compensation coverage, and benefits provided thereunder could cover those costs as well as furnish a portion of any wages that were lost due to an absence from work.

Source: OH&S Online, "Hazmat Identification, Control, and Emergency Response: The Fundamental Weakness in the System", Jim Giermanski, July 1, 2015

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