Handling and Storing Hazardous Materials Putting Safety First

It takes a lot of different tools and materials to keep multifamily buildings looking, smelling and functioning at their best. That means that maintenance crews, contractors, snow removal teams, and other staff members must rely upon sometimes harsh and hazardous chemicals, as well as potentially dangerous tools, to get their jobs done. 

When it comes to properly storing, handling and disposing of those materials, it is imperative that all rules, regulations, and guidelines are followed in order to ensure the safety of not only the staff and those working with the materials directly, but also of every resident in the building or association. 

Hazards on Deck 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines household hazardous materials or waste as certain “leftover household products that can catch fire, react or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic.” This includes products such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries and pesticides, to name a few.  

The types and amounts of materials found in co-op or condo buildings “depends on how much work the building staff does itself” versus hiring out maintenance or landscaping duties to outside contractors, says Richard Lester, President of Garden State Environmental Inc. in Glen Rock, New Jersey. 

When it comes to the storage of these types of products—and looking out for the safety of residents and staff —common sense and caution should inform all decisions. In fact, says attorney Adam Leitman Bailey of the law firm Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C., in Manhattan, the best idea is simply to keep chemicals off site. “Most flammable or hazardous materials are used in painting or repairs,” he says. “There’s no reason for them to be kept on site. They can be disposed of and new paint or materials purchased when they’re needed.” 

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