Hazardous Waste in the construction industry: What you need to know

Hazardous waste materials are dangerous for a reason. Their presence alone is enough to derail an entire construction project if they’re not dealt with carefully. The safe removal of hazardous waste can cost you time and money, but the repercussions of not disposing of it correctly will cost you more in the long run.


With a bit of advanced planning and insurance, you can ensure the waste materials are handled safely, ensuring minimal damage is inflicted on your construction site, workers and the environment. We’ve put together a list of some of the hazardous materials you’re likely to find on a construction site and how to dispose of them correctly.


What makes a material be classed as hazardous?

Your site Health and Safety Executive will have a clear definition of what materials are classified as a hazardous substance. This usually includes anything that could be harmful to human health or the environment around your construction site.


All businesses, no matter the industry, have a legal duty of care to deal with and dispose of hazardous waste in a way that does not inflict harm on others. If you’re in the construction industry, it’s likely that you already have some knowledge on how to deal with these waste materials. If you’re ever unsure, it’s best if you refer to your health and safety policy or dedicated executive for guidance.


What hazardous waste can be found on a construction site?

There are various types of hazardous waste that you might encounter on a building site, depending on location, type of development, existing land and much more. The list below is some of the materials you are most likely to encounter during your construction project.


Asbestos

Asbestos is a material once used widely in construction projects across the UK after WW2, and it’s likely to be the most common hazardous waste that you’ll come across.


Asbestos is a man-made mineral that can be found in many natural fibres and was used mostly for home insulation. However, it can also be found in farms, commercial settings, and buried in the ground. The danger comes from asbestos when it is moved, broken down, or tampered with. When inhaled, the asbestos fibres can find their way into a person’s lungs leading to severe diseases. Most construction companies use the services of qualified waste removal experts that are specially trained in handling and removing asbestos.


Pesticides

This type of hazardous waste is not necessarily a direct threat to your construction workers, but it can still have a devastating impact on the land around your site. Pesticides are harmful chemicals that are notorious for the damage they can inflict on animals and the environment.


Spillages can have devastating and sometimes irreversible ecological damage, and that’s why they should always be kept and handled with the same care and attention as other chemicals. The official government body has a guide on how to remove pesticide waste here.


Chemicals

Aside from pesticides, it’s likely there’ll be a whole host of chemicals used on your construction site. These chemicals can be dangerous when improperly handled and used. All your workers should be provided with the correct training and equipment needed to deal with the chemicals being handled.


Like pesticides, when the chemicals are not in use, they should be stored securely and labelled accordingly. Having a good waste management practice on site will help you comply with environmental legislation and ensure that all hazardous chemicals are safely disposed of.


Batteries

You might not think batteries would be that harmful or even be classed as hazardous waste, but they are! Essentially, batteries are simply just containers full of harmful chemicals that are used to generate electricity. During its lifespan, the chemicals are safely contained within the battery. But when it comes to disposal, if they’re just dumped into landfill sites, the protective casing will break down and release these chemicals into the environment.


If you come across any batteries on-site and need to get rid of them, they must be recycled at an appropriate facility and not just chucked in regular waste disposal bins. As the construction firm, the responsibility falls to you to ensure the correct disposal is carried out.


Is it necessary to hire a Waste Removal expert?

It is always necessary, in our opinion, to hire the specialist skills of a waste removal expert when dealing with hazardous waste, in particular with Asbestos. Not only do these contractors have links to waste removal companies that can dispose of the material in a controlled and safe manner. They also have the necessary equipment needed to keep themselves safe when dealing with hazardous waste.


Working with Finedale Construction

It goes without saying that thanks to our huge amount of experience in the construction industry, when you choose to work with us, site safety and security is considered from the very start of the project.


We are always interested in hearing about new development opportunities. If you’ve recently acquired residential land and are looking for a professional and trustworthy construction and property developer, then look no further than Finedale Construction.