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Hazardous materials and workplace safety

Colorado residents who are involved in the transportation of hazardous materials may be at heightened risk due to lack of regulatory action and poor technological implementation. Although many companies employ smart shipping container technology to keep track of freight, experts say that the same devices should also be used to help emergency response teams take corrective action following incidents like rail accidents and spills.

A recent article on the subject noted that smart containers might help establish chain-of-custody records pertaining to hazardous materials. Such records would subsequently serve as evidence that authorized personnel and appropriate authorities could reference on demand. When accidents occur, the records would instantly reveal critical details, like the correct ways to isolate the public from flammable, toxic, radioactive, infectious or corrosive ladings.

Analysts say that electronic systems have numerous advantages over existing mechanisms. Current U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines take too long to access during emergencies, and the print-format guidebooks that contain them aren't always available to those responding to emergencies. Monitoring systems that employ cellular towers and satellites could forward alerts automatically when a chain of custody is broken, potentially making it possible to reduce the likelihood of hazardous oversights.

Workers who transport hazardous chemicals risk their lives and livelihoods on a routine basis. When they get caught up in accidents like spills and wrecks, the workplace injuries often result in high medical bills and prolonged absences from work. Many such workers are eligible to file for workers' compensation benefits, which can provide a measure of financial relief as well as medical care and treatment. In some cases where the accident was caused by the negligence of a non-employer third party, it may be possible to pursue a separate personal injury lawsuit as well. An attorney who has experience with these matters might be of assistance to an injured worker in this position.

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