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Keep the Details of Environmental Clean-Up Companies Close

Environmental Risks are Virtually Impossible to Eliminate Entirely

Similar to all health and safety dangers, nobody wants an accident to take place, but it is imperative to be prepared for this very eventuality. Even with exceptionally thorough and high-quality health and safety training being provided to employees, coupled with stringent safety controls and a strong health and safety culture in the business which is actively promoted by management, there will still exist the possibility of an incident or accident taking place.

Health and safety training and preventative measures can in most instances only reduce the likelihood of such an incident happening; it cannot ever totally eliminate any possibility of it taking place. Whilst substituting a hazardous chemical for another substance which is completely harmless may eliminate the risk from the hazardous substance itself, it will still not completely eliminate every possible risk to health and safety, as a person could still slip on a spillage or drop the container on their foot etc. Only completely shutting up shop and closing the business will actually eliminate every danger, but obviously this is not reasonably practical!

By having a workforce which is highly-trained in environmental safety matters and holding qualifications like the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate or similar, a company's aim is to minimise the chances of an incident or accident occurring which can cause damage to the environment. Despite this, no amount of environmental training, health and safety courses, planning or safety controls will be able in all practicality to reduce the probability of such an incident occurring down to zero percent. This means that despite best efforts, unfortunately accidents can and do happen.

Environmental Incidents

Environmental incidents also follow a similar theme in that for the vast majority of companies it will not be reasonably practical to take the drastic steps necessary to completely eliminate any potential risk to the environment. No matter how stringent the safety protocols and failsafes are, or how much training is given in the form of the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate qualification or similar environmental courses, there will also exist the possibility of an environmental incident taking place.

The Need to be Prepared for an Environmental Emergency

As such it is imperative for companies to be prepared to deal with an environmental incident which happens to take place unexpectedly, no matter how confident they are about their safeguards, working procedures and competence levels of their employees. The exact nature of the environmental incident will determine the appropriate action required, but it may be the case that it demands the services of a specialist environmental clean-up company to help remedy the situation.

The Benefits Of Calling-In An Environmental Clean-Up Specialist

These environmental clean-up specialists will not only be suitably trained and highly knowledgeable regarding the substances in question and the associated dangers which the substance can cause to the human body and to plant and animal life, but will also be able to conduct the clean-up without endangering any more people or causing further devastation to the environment. This makes choosing the correct environmental specialists for the task of paramount importance, not only to rectify the existing situation, but to actually not make it even worse than it already is.

Choose A Suitable Environmental Clean-Up Specialist

To choose the correct environmental clean-up specialists it will be necessary to take into consideration the points mentioned above. There is a real danger that an already hazardous and damaging state of affairs can be made even more catastrophic to health and habitat if the clean-up is performed incorrectly. Therefore those who are brought in to carry it out need to be suitably trained themselves in the risks and dangers from the substance(s) in question. Just as a deficiency in knowledge on the part of workers who have not received suitable health and safety training can put them at risk, a lack of knowledge amongst the clean-up personnel regarding the dangers to health from the substances being encountered can place them at risk, or contribute to them taking an action which causes further harm to the surrounding environment. These secondary consequences are easily forgotten about and overlooked when trying to deal with the original incident, for example tackling a fire with water which then washes pollution into groundwater and surrounding watercourses.

Tackling an environmental accident will nearly always require the clean-up personnel to wear protective clothing and use specialist tools or equipment. Therefore those who are called in to clean-up a situation need to have such clothing and equipment, in addition to it being in good condition and suitable for purpose, so that they can carry out the task without harm coming to themselves.

Avoiding the Temptation to Clean Up Environmental Hazards as Soon as Possible

A significant, if not the main, purpose of providing health and safety training to workers and putting into place stringent control measures and procedures, is to prevent an accident or incident from taking place. If one were to occur, it can put the health, safety and wellbeing of both people and other living organisms in danger, with the potential for illness, injury and possibly death depending upon the severity of the incident and the substances involved. Of course, even with all the health and safety courses available and taking all necessary precautions under the sun, there will always exist a possibility, however slight, that an accident will happen.

Where environmental hazards are concerned, accidental spillages or similar can cause major devastation to the affected habitat, plant life and aquatic creatures. A spillage of substances such as oil for instance can cause significant loss of life for all creatures living in the water or relying upon it for feeding.

Whatever the substances which have been accidentally released, a company's first thoughts should be to shut off the source of the release to ensure that no more escapes and contributes further to the problem, and to notify appropriate groups such as environmental agencies and the emergency services.

The Danger Of Rushing To Clean-Up

A natural reaction may also be to attempt to clean up the affected area straight away, particularly when the damage being done can easily be seen and a company wishes to rectify its mistake. However, this can sometimes create an additional problem by placing those employees who are given the task of cleaning it up at risk in terms of a danger to their own health and safety. The reason for this is that if a substance is hazardous to the environment then there is a high probability that it is also harmful to people too, and so any contact with it can endanger the health and wellbeing of a person.

For certain hazardous substances, clean-up needs to be conducted by specially trained personnel who have the correct protective clothing and equipment for the task. Without it, a person faces a lot of risk to their own personal health and safety, and should at least wait until the hazard has been thoroughly assessed before attempting any sort of clean up, assuming that they can indeed clean it up, as there may be a need to leave it for the specialists or professionals.

Employees Should Not Put Themselves in Danger

Cleaning up the incident as quickly as possible is important for preventing the scale of environmental damage and the radius over which it spreads, such as seeping into watercourses and polluting water over a large area. However, employees attempting to clean-up the spillage without the specialist knowledge and protective equipment could put their own personal safety and well-being in peril. Whilst the urge to prevent further harm to the environment and clean up the spill will be strong, it could result in an even bigger disaster were people to become seriously ill as a result of coming into contact with hazardous substances.

Obviously prevention is the most preferable option, but once an environmental incident has occurred it is sometimes necessary to wait for the specialists to arrive on site, even if it does mean a greater negative impact upon the environment, rather than putting employees in harms' way trying to remedy the situation without the proper training and equipment to keep them safe when dealing with the substances involved. Even so, speed is still of the essence to prevent as much harm being done to the environment as possible, and so the clean-up specialists should be called in as soon as possible. This makes it important to have their contact details kept close and in a location where a lot of people know and can access them easily. By getting the team in quickly before the pollutants can spread even further, the less negative impact there will be upon the surrounding environment.

Don't Put Yourself Or Others In Danger

Whilst there may be the urge to clean up the mess as soon as possible, just as first aiders are taught, placing yourself or additional people at risk is not the recommended route to follow. Too much haste to try and help could end up making the situation worse by putting more lives in danger.

Health And Safety Is The Responsibility Of All

Whilst it will be the responsibility of the clean-up company to ensure that their employees have the proper training, equipment and protective equipment to carry out the task, the company which has caused the incident can also play a part by conducting research to ensure that the company chosen to carry out the clean-up are professional and can competently perform the action. Otherwise, not only can the situation cause harm to the health and safety of people, but can also make it worse for the environment through contributing further to the problem and causing additional hazards and dangers.

Related Course

Please see below for more information on the NEBOSH Environmental Certificate:

NEBOSH Certificate in Environmental Management

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate, or NEBOSH National Certificate in Environmental Management to give it its full title, is an environmental health and safety course which is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who are responsible for managing environmental issues at their workplace.

The NEBOSH Environmental Certificate qualification focuses on UK law, so is really only suitable for those who are based and operate within the UK.

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