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Construction Hazardous Waste Disposal

Last updated: September 26, 2018

What Does Construction Hazardous Waste Disposal Mean?

Construction hazardous waste disposal refers to the practices and obligations involved in the removal of hazardous waste generated on construction sites.

It is usually illegal for construction sites to mix hazardous waste into non-hazardous-waste disposal systems. This is due to the occupational danger that hazardous waste poses to waste-processing workers who are unaware of and unequipped to work with hazardous wastes.

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Safeopedia Explains Construction Hazardous Waste Disposal

In most jurisdictions, the construction industry is governed by its own specific set of health and safety standards that supersede or augment those regulations that apply to general industry. Firms that create hazardous waste as part of their work processes are referred to as “generators” of hazardous wastes, and they face obligations to dispose of hazardous waste according to rules that describe proper sorting, packaging, and drop-off procedures for waste.

Specific hazardous wastes that are endemic to many parts of the construction industry due to their current or former use as common building materials include asbestos, lead, PCBs, and mercury.

Standards and Regulations

In the United States, the rules governing hazardous waste management in the construction industry include rules promulgated under OSHA 1926. Depending on the context (for instance, if the employer transports his or her own waste), the Department of Transportation’s CFR 49 regulations may also apply. Sub-national jurisdictions can also play a prominent role in waste disposal regulation. For instance, in Canada, provincial governments have chief responsibility for both occupational safety and the movement of hazardous wastes within their jurisdictions.

Most waste disposal obligations on construction sites include an obligation to prevent waste from entering the larger environment. In the U.S., these obligations are particularly associated with the Environmental Protection Agency's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which provides a permit program that work sites must abide by in order to operate. These housekeeping and disposal rules help to ensure that on-site hazardous waste does not build up to the point where it creates an unacceptable risk of worker exposure, and the rules can be considered part of waste disposal obligations.

Assessing and Reducing Risk

To ensure that waste disposal activity can be undertaken safely, employers are required to provide workers who are expected to manage or participate in waste collection and disposal activities with adequate training and protective equipment. Assessment of the construction site to identify hazardous waste and to assess the risk associated with disposal activities must be undertaken by a qualified person. If hazardous materials that were not identified during the work site's hazard assessment are encountered during the project, work should stop immediately until the situation can be re-assessed by a qualified person.


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HazardsBest PracticesProcess SafetyTransportation SafetyHAZMATSafety Hazard

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