It's a simple question, but one that can affect shipping operations: what are you transporting? Hazardous cargo needs to be assessed and verified before shipping operations begin, and employers need to make sure that all contents are secure and prevented from breaking, spilling or falling while being moved around a marine terminal.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has different regulations pertaining to common hazardous materials in marine terminals. Whatever preparations employers take have to be appropriate for the situation and reduce the chances of physical harm.

Some of hazards listed on OSHA's official site include industrial chemicals like insecticides, carbon monoxide and asbestos. Whether they are sprayed around an area intentionally or left exposed as the result of an accident, employers should use signage to alert employees to potential dangers. Some substances, like fumigated tobacco in a cargo container, will need space for an appropriate aeration period.

Another aspect of successful hazard mitigation is how well a terminal communicates hazard specifics to employees. OSHA uses different terms to refer to varying agents and the harm they can do. In addition, it also outlines an important distinction between different types of negative physical effects that result from an on-site hazard.

"Generally, the terms 'acute' and 'chronic' are used to delineate between effects on the basis of severity or duration," it states. "'Acute' effects usually occur rapidly as a result of short-term exposures, and are of short duration. 'Chronic' effects generally occur as a result of long-term exposure, and are of long duration." 

Operators that work with lots of dangerous cargo and potentially harmful substances have to consider the benefits of maritime insurance that pertains to the specific work their employees will be doing on a regular basis. The cost of injury could be high, making insurance necessary to counteract possible risks.

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