What Does HAZMAT Team Mean?
A HAZMAT team is an organized group of professionals who are specially trained to handle hazardous materials or dangerous goods.
HAZMAT is an abbreviation for "hazardous materials," which refers to any substance that poses a significant risk to people, property, or the environment. HAZMAT teams are deployed to deal with spills, leaks, and other accidental releases of these materials.
Safeopedia Explains HAZMAT Team
Incidents involving hazardous materials can have serious repercussions that must be dealt with in a timely fashion.
HAZMAT spills in coastal waters can disrupt transportation and affect marine life. Hazardous material leaks into the soil can contaminate it and harm people and the surrounding environment. Spills in closed spaces can produce harmful fumes, further compounding the risks to anyone in the area.
There can be, moreover, cases of hazardous materials used with criminal intent. In these events, the materials can be classified as weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
The NFPA 472 / NFPA 470 standard identifies the minimum levels of competence required by responders to emergencies involving HAZMATs.
Types of HAZMAT
Hazardous materials or dangerous goods is a broad category that includes:
- Combustible substances
- Corrosive liquids
- Dangerous cargo
- Oxidizing agents
- Radioactive materials
- Asphyxiating agents
- Biohazards and toxic substances
- Pathogenic or allergenic materials
HAZMAT includes materials in solid, liquid, and gaseous forms, as well as combinations of them such as fumes, vapors, mists, smokes, and dusts.
Hazardous conditions involving these materials include container leaks, compressed gas container explosions, hot materials, chemical spills and splashes, and acts of terrorism..
Working Knowledge Required by HAZMAT Teams
Members of a HAZMAT team must have working knowledge of the following topics:
- Assessing the hazards
- Basic chemistry
- Protective clothing types and their uses
- Hazardous material detectors and monitoring equipment
- Working methodology for handling situations involving hazardous materials
- Proper disposal of hazardous wastes
- Isolation and decontamination
Responsibilities of the HAZMAT Team
HAZMAT teams are generally responsible for the following:
- Facilitating the safe evacuation of anyone in the affected area
- Handling hazardous materials with minimum harm to life, the environment, or property
- Removal or cleanup of hazardous materials
- Arranging medical support for anyone exposed to hazardous materials
Roles of HAZMAT Emergency Responders
There are a few different types of HAZMAT emergency responders. Here are their roles:
- Awareness-level personnel – those who discover the HAZMAT release and initiate emergency notifications.
- Operations-level responders – often the professional firefighters who come in response to a 9-1-1 call. They analyze the situation, assess the need for additional resources, implement a strategy, and evaluate the progress of the incident.
- HAZMAT technicians – capable of taking aggressive actions, such as stopping leaks by plugging and patching.
- Additional personnel – including incident commanders, specialist employees, and HAZMAT officers
The actual makeup of the HAZMAT team and HAZMAT emergency responders will vary from country to country. In some, industrial HAZMAT accidents, marine accidents, and fire-related incidents are handled by different types of specialists and responders.