Morris, Downing & Sherred, LLP

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Making hazmat operations safer

In New Jersey and around the country, accidents involving hazardous materials are a serious risk to the public. The reality of the situation is that very little is being done by the government or by hazardous chemicals manufacturers to reduce potential risks. Implementing available technology in the chain-of-custody process would go a long way in making the industry safer.

"Chain of custody" refers to the integrity of evidence and requires careful documentation of the process of seizure, control and transfer of materials. It is a term also often used in forensics regarding exhibits that must be carefully logged and stored. Careful monitoring of this information is essential to prevent unsafe working conditions when transporting hazardous materials.

"Smart" containers where hazardous materials are stored can log data related to chain of custody information. Smart containers can store tracking information about who takes possession of the materials and where the materials are transported. They can also store data about what is stored. Smart containers can even provide emergency responders with information about safe handling in the case of an accident, and they can provide constant updates about where they are and self-report any information about deviations from intended routes. The information can be monitored anywhere around the world via GPS technology.

Workers in the hazardous materials field may be exposed to unsafe working conditions and, if injured or sickened as a result, may be eligible to file a claim for worker's compensation benefits. As some employers try to dispute the claim or downplay the effects on the employee, many workers in this position obtain the assistance of an attorney during the process.

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