Virtual Flexo Plant

Shipping & Receiving


The Shipping and Receiving department can be one of the most critical compliance points in a facility. This is where the final approval to allow an item into the facility occurs and where it will be stored. Shipping and Receiving employees also provide the final review of a material (hazardous or otherwise) that is being shipped out. As a result, it is imperative that shipping and receiving employees are adequately trained about wastes, compliance and raw materials; and that they take responsibility for assisting in the role of compliance assurance and prevention of pollution.

Printers purchase many different types of new and semi-finished input materials. Through some simple procedures, printers can control inventory of inks, substrates, solvents and other items. Inventory control involves keeping records of purchases, usage and shelf life of inventory, and protecting materials from damage during handling and storage. Some materials decompose during extended storage time and thus may become hazardous waste. To avoid having to dispose of unused materials, many practices may be considered.

Record keeping is an important step towards environmental compliance. It is strongly urged that all purchase records, receipts, bills of lading, and/or manifests be kept every time any waste, both hazardous and nonhazardous, is disposed. A good record keeping system can help demonstrate compliance and determine the various sources of waste, generation rates, and provide answers for implementing a pollution prevention program.

Best Management Practices & Pollution Prevention

Ordering Materials

  • Although it can sometimes be less expensive to order in bulk, there are times when ordering materials on an as-needed basis can save money, especially for those materials that have a short shelf-life. Try purchasing the smallest amount of product necessary to do the job. Some suppliers can ship overnight, depending on their proximity to the print facility.
  • Do not stockpile materials that may end up as unusable because of expired shelf-life or potential damage during storage. The cost of waste disposal for unused chemicals and materials may be higher than the savings of buying materials in bulk quantity.
  • Small printers should order ink and solvent in smaller containers according to use. Large printers may order commonly used materials in large containers (i.e., totes), which are returnable to the supplier, thereby eliminating or reducing the need to clean them and the expense to store the materials in the printing facility.
  • Purchase from an ink manufacturer that will provide the ink on consignment to the printing facility. In this way the facility must only pay for the ink that is actually consumed.
  • Many printers purchase inks in 55 gallon drums which are reconditioned and not put into the trash. By purchasing in reusable bulk containers, the container can be returned to the ink supplier for refilling instead of being thrown away. In addition, the use of bulk containers also cuts down on the amount of cleaning required because the surface area of the container per unit volume of ink stored is reduced.
  • Inspect new materials before accepting them. Unacceptable, damaged, or nearly expired materials should be returned to the supplier.
  • It is important to track exactly what materials are received, when they arrive, and where they are stored. Computerized inventory systems to track the amounts and ages of raw materials are available or can be developed in-house. If such a system is not available, keep detailed records of when materials were purchased and indicate when their expiration will occur.
  • Designate one person, usually the shipping and receiving clerk, to manage raw materials for proper inventory control, ensure that hazardous substances are properly contained and labeled, and keep Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) files up to date.
  • Mark purchase date on containers and use older materials first - use the “first-in, first-out” rule. This will minimize material expiration and associated waste.
  • To prevent input material contamination, keep the storage area clean and off limits to traffic. Traffic will increase dust and dirt in the storage area, and can result in possible contamination. Use bollards, chains, floor markings or other means to protect materials from accidental damage by forklifts and other mechanical and pedestrian traffic.
  • Chemicals that are sensitive to light and temperature such as film processing chemistry should be stored according to the manufacturer’s directions to prevent damage to the materials. Chemical container labels generally list recommended storage conditions.
  • Paper waste can be minimized through proper handling and storage of rolls or packages of paper.
  • Paper can easily absorb moisture; therefore, storing paper in an area with controlled temperature and humidity is important. Ideally, sheet-fed paper should be conditioned to the temperature and humidity of the press room for one day before printing.
  • Rolls of paper should be stored on the flat side of the roll. Roll core pucks can be reused to set paper rolls on, in order to increase circulation around the paper and to minimize risk of damage to the material if a spill or leak occurred in the facility.
  • Purchase materials from a manufacturer that will accept material returns if shelf-life is exceeded.
  • Materials having expired shelf life should not automatically be thrown out. Instead, this material should be tested for effectiveness. The material may be usable, rather than becoming a waste. Check on alternative uses before discarding.
  • Consider contacting a nearby high school or college graphic arts department to donate expired materials for its program.
  • Link up with a waste exchange in your area.
  • Make sure the original containers of products are completely empty before they are thrown away. Use all of the product. It is good business sense.
  • Some of the smaller ink containers are discarded in the trash. Because the degree of cleanliness is a function of operator effort, the amount of ink discarded can vary. Make sure that containers are completely empty before disposal.
  • Control access to hazardous materials that could be used in place of the non-hazardous alternative, so that employees are encouraged to use available non-hazardous materials.

Shipping and Receiving Area

Most loading docks, particularly in the Mid-west, are sloped downward towards the building and equipped with a drain to discharge water and melting snow off trucks. In order to help reduce the risk of a release of regulated materials into the environment it is a good practice to plug the drains while off loading inks and other liquid materials that could potentially cause an EPA reportable release. Additionally, have these drain plugs or covers available in case any incident occurs that could result in a release into the environment.

Environmental Regulations

U.S. EPA's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) establishes the requirement to manage hazardous wastes. This includes manifesting, storing, handling, labeling, on-site inspection, secondary containment, emergency response, and disposal.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) establishes the requirements to store, label, manifest, and handle hazardous materials, including hazardous waste. DOT establishes the container specifications, inspection and testing, emergency response, and the actual transport of the hazardous material.

Hazardous Waste / Materials


According to U.S. EPA RCRA regulations, every shipment of hazardous waste that leaves the facility must be accompanied by a properly completed uniform hazardous waste manifest, and where applicable a land ban form. It is the responsibility of the facility (generator/printer) to provide the proper manifest and land ban documents (where applicable). However, many waste disposal companies provide these documents as a service to the customer. However, it is ultimately the generator's responsibility to provide these documents and

By signing these documents the individual is certifying that the information on the manifest, a legal document, is correct. It is for this reason that the shipping and receiving employees should be trained on how to review and assess a hazardous waste manifest before they sign any forms or should be informed of the strict company policy on who is authorized to sign these legal documents.

Shipping Papers

49 CFR 172.202 indicates the required order of the hazardous materials description on shipping papers. The proper shipping name is listed first, followed by the hazard class/division, identification number, and packing group. The subsidiary risks may be entered following the primary hazard or the packing group.

Beginning October 1, 2005, subsidiary hazard classes or divisions will be required by DOT and will have to be inserted in parenthesis following the primary hazard of the material.

Recently, the DOT issued an acceptable alternate sequence for the description. The new optional sequence is the identification number is listed first, followed by the proper shipping name, the primary hazard class/division and subsidiary risks, followed by the packing group. This optional sequence, published in the Federal Register on July 31, 2003, was authorized by DOT to harmonize US regulations with the international regulations for shipping dangerous goods.

Hazmat Employees

DOT defines a hazmat employee as a person who is employed by a hazmat employer (a facility who handles, uses, and/or stores hazardous materials, including hazardous waste) and who in the course of their employment directly affects hazardous materials transportation safety (49 CFR 171.8). Individuals, who, during the course of their employment perform any of the following activities:

Loads, unloads or handles hazardous materials

Manufactures, tests, reconditions, repairs, modifies, marks, or otherwise represents containers drums, or packages as qualified for use in the transportation of hazardous materials

Prepares hazardous materials for transportation

Is responsible for safety of transporting hazardous materials

Operates a vehicle used to transport hazardous materials

Employees participating in any of the above listed activities are considered hazmat employees. DOT recently refined the applicability of these regulations to include personnel responsible for:

  • Filling hazardous materials packagings
  • Closing or securing hazardous materials packagings
  • Selecting, providing or affixing placards
  • Filling out or reviewing shipping papers
  • Certifying hazardous materials are in proper condition for transport
  • Providing or maintaining emergency response information
  • Transloading hazardous materials at an intermodal transfer facility from one bulk packaging to another for the purposes of continuing transport

Hazmat Employee General Awareness Training

Hazmat employees must be trained in general awareness/hazard familiarization, function-specific, safety, and security-awareness training every three years (49 CFR 172.704(c)). This training provides employees essential knowledge about how to read and understand international hazard symbols, such as flammable signage.

U.S. DOT Hazardous Material Handling Training Requirements

Companies who offer/transport hazardous materials must ensure that all of their hazmat employees are trained properly according to 49 CFR 172.700-704

Training is required for all hazmat employees who perform functions that are subject to the requirements of the hazardous material regulations. In other words, any employees that load or unload hazardous materials, fills out or signs shipping papers, selects containers, closes containers for shipment, marks or labels containers, or otherwise performs any function that can impact the safety of hazardous material shipment, must be trained.

Initial training is required within 90 days of performing the hazmat function & recurrent training is required every 3 years. Hazmat employee training must include:

  • General awareness/familiarization training
  • Function-specific training
  • Safety training
  • Security awareness training
  • In-depth security training(for individuals that are required to have a hazardous material security plan)

According to 49 CFR 172.704(c), a new hazmat employee, or a hazmat employee who changes job functions may perform those new functions prior to completion of their training as long as the employee performs his functions under the direct supervision of a properly trained and knowledgeable hazmat employee.

The new hazmat employee must complete their hazardous materials training within 90 days after employment or change in job function. A hazmat employee that must receive training is any employee that does any of the following: selects hazardous material packages, closes the packages, marks or labels packages, loads or unloads vehicles, placards vehicles, completes or signs shipping papers, or performs other functions that impact the safety of a hazardous material shipment.

Although DOT does not require training until the 90th day of employment, it is intrinsic that you ensure that untrained personnel properly manage hazardous materials and that these employees receive their training as early as possible.


Containers and vehicles must be properly labeled if they contain or transport hazardous materials. This includes waste materials as well as raw materials. The U.S. Department of Transportation has specific labeling and placcarding regulations that must be complied with. For more information see 49 CFR 172.400

According to 49 CFR 172.506, each person offering a placardable amount or type of hazardous material must provide the motor carrier with the required placards either prior to or at the same time the material is offered for transportation, unless the carrier's motor vehicle is already placarded for this material. Either the shipper offering the hazardous material or the motor carrier must affix the placard. Regardless, a motor carrier must only transport a hazardous material in a motor vehicle when all the correct placards have been affixed.

According to OSHA standards containers of hazardous chemicals must be marked, labeled, or tagged with the chemical identity together with its physical and health hazards. When chemicals are purchased in bulk, they are commonly repackaged into smaller containers for use by employees. According to 29 CFR 1910.1200(f)(7), portable containers must also be labeled as described above, unless both of the following conditions apply:

  • The hazardous chemical is transferred from a container that is properly labeled
  • The portable container is only for the immediate use of the employee that performs the transfer

Immediate use means that the hazardous chemical will be under the control of and used only by the person who transfers it from a labeled container and only within the work shift in which it is transferred.

Shipping Vessels

Manufacturers of DOT-prescribed containers are required to permanently mark them with the type of packaging, the name and address or symbol of the packaging manufacturer, or, where specifically authorized, the symbol of the agency certifying compliance with a UN standard.

According to 49 CFR 178.3, on containers with a gross capacity of more than 66 pounds, the markings must appear on the top or on a side of the packaging.

Additional markings that are required depend on the container type. For example, non-bulk packagings for liquids must be marked with:

  • UN symbol
  • Packaging identification code
  • Performance standard
  • Maximum rated specific gravity
  • Container origination
  • Authorizing state (country)
  • Minimum thickness for reuse (metal or plastic drums or jerricans)
  • Test pressure in kilopascals

These markings are required to be placed in a permanent form on the bottom.

Shipping Vehicles

Shipping and receiving employees should routinely inspect vehicles delivering chemicals and other hazardous materials as well as vehicles used to transport wastes and other hazardous materials for the facility to assure that the vehicle is properly labeled, appears to be in safe condition, etc.

Driving Routes - Transporting Hazardous Materials/Waste

Road Restrictions

The transporter of the facility's hazardous waste is required to provide the generator with a description and/or map of the driving directions, including road names, etc., the driver will follow while transporting hazardous waste/materials from the facility.

Driving Directions

All weight and vehicle restrictions must be determined prior to hazardous materials leaving the facility. These restricted roads or sections of roads must be avoided when transporting materials from the facility. Alternative routes should be reflected in the carrier's driving direction plan.

Emergency Response

Equipment & Preparedness

A spill response drum should be kept in an easy to access location unobstructed by other items stored in the area. Because these drums do not get used frequently it is common for debris or other items to inadvertently be stored around or near the spill response drum that may obstruct access in the event of an emergency.

Due to the risk of spills in this area a spill response drum should be kept in a central location. Printers should establish a minimum quantity of specific items that may be needed. Keep in mind non-sparking equipment is preferred for these types of packages. Also keep in mind employees have a tendency to break open these drums when they are running short of gloves, etc. and the drums should be regularly inspected, replenished and resealed.

The shipping and receiving area should be free from spills of oil, antifreeze or production materials. Small (and large) spills should be cleaned up immediately. Small drips resulting from vehicles, etc. should be controlled by providing sorbent materials to contain antifreeze or oil drips. A significant release of antifreeze, fuel, oil, etc. can result in an EPA reportable spill. Again protecting the drains in this area is a key factor of avoiding this risk. Elimination of any spills should be the goal as these equate to product loss.

Drums and other containers should be properly staged for shipping. Drums and containers should have a designated staging area in order to help assure that containers are properly segregated. An example would be a full drum of ink getting mixed with the empty drums of ink and accidentally sent on the truck with empty drums for reconditioning. Without proper paperwork and documentation this could result in a serious DOT situation.

Shipping and receiving employees should be trained to safely handle (transport) the types of drums and packages received. Because some of the products being delivered, whether intentionally ordered or unintentionally delivered, may contain hazardous ingredients or require special handling it is important that the first people to handle or accept the materials understand how to transport and store them. When off-loading vehicles by hand it is also important for these individuals to know how to physically protect their bodies in order to prevent muscle and skeletal injuries due to lifting, etc.

Solid Waste

(Dumpsters and compactors are commonly placed near loading docks. The Shipping & Receiving Manager other department employees should watch over the waste containers. They should know the prohibited and permitted wastes (no oil, antifreeze, etc. They should also know what to do if they find prohibited wastes. These vessels should be secured (locked) to avoid "midnight" dumping into the facility's waste containers.

Universal Waste and PBT Regulations

Fluorescent Light Bulbs, UV Light Bulbs, Lighting Ballasts, Batteries, Thermostats, Switches Containing Mercury)

According to 40 CFR 273.54, a universal waste transporter must immediately contain all releases of universal wastes and other residues from universal wastes. The transporter must determine whether any material resulting from the release is hazardous waste, and if so, it is subject to all applicable requirements of 40 CFR parts 260 through 272. If the waste is determined to be a hazardous waste, the transporter is subject to 40 CFR 262 (generator requirements).

Universal Waste Spills

Many universal wastes may be considered hazardous waste if a release occurs, depending on the waste and the concentration of its constituents. According to 40 CFR 273.12 and 273.37, both large and small quantity handlers of universal waste must immediately contain releases of universal waste and other residues from universal wastes. You must determine whether any material resulting from the release is hazardous waste, and if so, must manage the hazardous waste in compliance with all applicable hazardous waste regulations. The universal waste handler would then also be considered the generator of the waste resulting from the release, and is subject to 40 CFR 262.

According to 40 CFR 273.14 and 273.34, large quantity and small quantity handlers of universal waste must label or mark the universal waste to identify the type of universal waste as specified below:

a. Universal waste batteries (i.e., each battery), or a container or tank in which the batteries are contained, must be labeled or marked clearly with any one of the following phrases: "Universal Waste--Battery(ies)," or "Waste Battery(ies)," or "Used Battery(ies)"

b. A container (or multiple container package unit), tank, transport vehicle or vessel in which recalled universal waste esticides as described in 40 CFR 273.3(a)(1) are contained must be labeled or marked clearly with:

  1. The label that was on or accompanied the product as sold or distributed, and
  2. The words "Universal Waste--Pesticide(s)" or "Waste--Pesticide(s)"

c. A container, tank, or transport vehicle or vessel in which unused pesticide products as described in 40 CFR 273.3(a)(2) are contained must be labeled or marked clearly with:

  1. The label that was on the product when purchased, if still legible
  2. If using the labels described in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section is not feasible, the appropriate label as required under the Department of Transportation regulation 49 CFR part 172
  3. If using the labels described in paragraphs (c) (1)(i) and (1)(ii) of this section is not feasible, another label prescribed or designated by the pesticide collection program, and
  4. The words "Universal Waste--Pesticide(s)" or "Waste--Pesticide(s)"

d. Universal waste thermostats (i.e., each thermostat), or a container or tank in which the thermostats are contained, must be labeled or marked clearly with any one of the following phrases: "Universal Waste--Mercury Thermostat(s)," or "Waste Mercury Thermostat(s)," or "Used Mercury Thermostat(s)"

e. Each lamp or a container or package in which such lamps are contained must be labeled or marked clearly with any one of the following phrases: "Universal Waste--Lamp(s)," or "Waste Lamp(s)," or "Used Lamp(s)"

MSDS / Hazard Communication

Shipping and receiving employees must be informed of the hazards associated with the materials shipped and received and instruction on how to react if a spill or leak occurs in this department. A set of material safety data sheets (MSDS) should be readily available to shipping and receiving employees.

Shipping and receiving employees should also be aware of the procedures to obtain MSDS for new materials and where to route or handle these documents.

Leaks and spills commonly happen en route to the customer and therefore the shipping and receiving employee off-loading the delivery vehicle may be exposed. They need to thoroughly understand how to read an MSDS, the DOT labeling system, and where emergency equipment is, etc. This training should be documented.''

Proper Storage of Dangerous/Hazardous Materials

Flammable Materials

OSHA defines flammable liquid at 29 CFR 1910.106(a)(19). A flammable liquid is any liquid having a flash point below 100 deg. F. (37.8 deg. C.), except any mixture having components with flash points of 100 deg. F. (37.8 deg. C.) or higher, the total of which make up 99 percent or more of the total volume of the mixture. Flammable liquids are categorized as Class I liquids, and Class I liquids are divided into three classes as follows:

a.. Class IA: liquids having flash points below 73 deg. F. (22.8 deg. C.) and having boiling points below 100 deg. F. (37.8 deg. C.)

b.. Class IB: liquids having flash points below 73 deg. F. (22.8 deg. C.) and having boiling points at or above 100 deg. F. (37.8 deg. C.)

c.. Class IC: liquids having flash points at or above 73 deg. F. (22.8 deg. C.) and below 100 deg. F. (37.8 deg. C.)

Flammable liquids must be stored according to OSHA standards. For example, flammable liquids must be kept in approved containers, which must be stored in approved cabinets, and not more than 60 gallons of Class I or Class II liquids, nor more than 120 gallons of Class III liquids, may be stored in a storage cabinet.

Flammable Material Storage Vessels

Unless the liquids are medicines, beverages, foodstuffs, and other common consumer items. Table H-12 in 29 CFR 1910.106 indicates the maximum allowable size of containers and portable tanks.

If the flammable liquid is a Class 1A (boiling point of <100 F and a flash point of 73 F), the maximum size is 1 pt. If the liquid is a Class 1B (boiling point of > 100 F and a flash point of < 73 F) then the maximum size is 1 qt.

Plastic containers of no more than 1-gallon capacity may be used for Class IA or IB flammable liquid if the liquid would become unfit for its intended use by contact with metal or if it would excessively corrode a metal container (29 CFR 1910.106(d)(2(iii)(a)(1)).

Compressed Gas Handling & Storage

OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.253(b)(2) specifies that compressed gas cylinders must be kept away from radiators and other sources of heat. Inside buildings, cylinders storage areas must be well-protected, well-ventilated, dry, and at least 20 feet (6.1 m) from highly combustible materials such as oil, grease, or wood shavings. Store cylinders in specifically assigned places, away from elevators, stairs, or gangways. Assigned storage spaces must be located where cylinders will not be knocked over or damaged by passing or falling objects, or subject to tampering by unauthorized persons. Do not keep cylinders in unventilated enclosures such as lockers and cupboards, and always keep cylinder valves closed.

According to OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.253(b)(2) Oxygen cylinders must be stored a minimum of 20 feet away from other flammable gases or a noncombustible barrier 5 ft. high with a 1 hour fire resistance rating must separate the two. Cylinders must be stored in assigned locations (sign posted) and be secured to protect from fall or damage. [When stored outside in locked racks, compressed gas cylinders must be stored at least 50 feet inside the property line.]

Acetylene cylinders must be stored valve end up. Oxygen cylinders (commonly used for welding) must not be stored near combustible material, especially oil and grease or near carbide and acetylene or other fuel gas cylinders (i.e., natural gas/propane).

No greater than 300 lbs of LP gas may be stored inside a building. This could include the compressed gas used to operate forklifts. If spare cylinders are located inside the building, total volume of LP gas stored should not exceed this limit. This inside storage limit excludes cylinders in use or mounted for ready use.

Empty cylinders must have their valves closed and caps in place at all time where applicable. Empty cylinders should be stored in accordance with the above mentioned storage/compatibility conditions. Even when preparing for pick-up by vendor, cylinders, which once contained reactive materials, should not be stored together.

Cylinders with leaking valves or fittings that cannot be stopped by closing the valve, must be taken outdoors away from ignition sources and slowly emptied.

Health & Safety

OSHA Fork Lift Operating Training and Inspection Standards

Forklift operators must be trained and licensed in accordance with OSHA safe operating regulations.

OSHA training requirements for powered industrial truck operators must be addressed based on different conditions. First, under 29 CFR 1910.178(I)(4)(iii), refresher training must be conducted at least once every three years. Second, 29 CFR 1910.178(I)(4)(ii) stipulates that refresher training in relevant topics be conducted when:

  • The operator has been seen operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner
  • The operator has been involved in an accident or near-miss incident
  • The operator has received an evaluation that reveals that the operator is not operating the truck safely
  • The operator is assigned to drive a different type of truck
  • A condition in the workplace changes such that safe operation of the truck could be affected

Seat Belts on Fork Lifts

The regulation covering powered industrial vehicles, 29 CFR 1910.178, which includes forklifts, does not specifically address the requirement to wear a seat belt while operating a forklift. This is addressed in OSHA's compliance directive CPL 2-1.28A Compliance Assistance for the Powered Industrial Truck Operator Training Standard dated 11/30/2000. Appendix B of the directive says, OSHAs enforcement policy relative to the use of seat belts on powered industrial trucks is that employers are obligated to require operators of powered industrial trucks that are equipped with operator restraint devices or seat belts to use the devices. OSHA should enforce the use of such devices under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act.

OSHA may also cite Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act if an employer has not taken advantage of a manufacturer operator restraint system or seat belt retrofit program. Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) is the General Duty Clause which says employers shall furnish to each employee employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.

Fork-lift Modifications & Add-On Equipment

OSHA's section 29 C.F.R. 1910.178(a)(4), which applies to powered industrial trucks and provides as follows: Modifications and additions which affect capacity and safe operation shall not be performed by the customer or user without manufacturers prior written approval. Capacity, operation, and maintenance instruction plates, tags, or decals shall be changed accordingly.

Where mechanical handling equipment is used, OSHA requires that sufficient safe clearances be allowed for aisles, at loading docks, through doorways and wherever turns or passage must be made. These aisles and passageways must be kept clear and in good repairs, with no obstruction across or in aisles that could create a hazard (29 CFR 1910.22 (b)(1)).


Permanent aisles and passageways must be "appropriately marked" as indicated at 29 CFR 1910.22(b)(2). Many safety managers have interpreted this to mean that aisles and passageways must be marked by painted floor lines.

OSHA issued a directive (#100-60) indicating that painted lines are the most feasible method of marking, where practical, since they may last several years without maintenance or repainting, however other appropriate methods such as marking pillars, powder stripping, flags, traffic cones or barrels are acceptable, when the employees are properly trained.

Additional Information

Case Studies:

  • DOT Office of Hazardous Materials Safety Regulations
  • Management of Solvents and Wipes in the Printing Industry
  • Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Chemicals: A Printer's Roadmap
  • Pollution Prevention at Custom Print
  • Understanding the Hazardous Waste Rules: A Handbook for Small Businesses
  • Universal Waste Rules and How They Affect a Printer