In this blog, I am going to discuss the storage of hazardous chemicals in the workplace, and give 10 steps to take that will ensure you are storing these chemicals in the safest way possible.
1. Eliminate any unnecessary chemicals
It is surprising how many organisations have chemicals stored “in case we need it later”. You should be disposing of any substances that are not currently being used as all they do is create an increased risk in the workplace.
2. Correctly dispose of your empty containers.
Depending on what has been in the substance, your safety data sheet might give you methodologies to dispose of your containers. If you have had pesticides or something of that nature in there, there might be a drum collection section at your transfer station.
3. Ensure that your chemicals are clearly labelled.
That means not just the ones that you’ve got into the workplace that have been provided by your suppliers or the shops, it also means those that we are decanting out. Making sure that you have got correctly labelled containers for substances decanted within the workplace. An example of this is not using soft drink bottles.
4. Ensure your register of hazardous chemicals is up to date.
You should know what is in the workplace in relation to your hazardous chemicals. An extension of that is making sure your manifest is also up to date if you store large quantities of chemicals.
The manifest is the document that the fire brigade will use when they turn up on site to be able to determine how they are going to combat a fire within your workplace. So it is very important that they know for example, where gas bottles are being stored or where fuel has been stored.
5. Ensure your storage area is clean and organised.
That’s a pretty obvious one, good housekeeping is good for managing hazardous chemicals.
6. Ensure incompatible chemicals are separated.
Some chemicals when stored together will react or if one comes into contact with, for example, a fire, it could cause an effect with another chemical, so we must make sure that they are not stored incorrectly.
There is actually a table available on most regulators websites which will actually give you details of what substances should be stored with what and if you look at the Australian Dangerous Goods Code in Australia, it will actually give you that information.
7. Inspect storage tanks and containers to make sure that they are in good condition.
8. Remove any food or personal belongings from the chemical storage area.
It isn’t acceptable for people to be having their morning tea and their lunches in storage areas with hazardous chemicals. You either need to remove the people from the area, or make sure that you do not store chemicals in their crib rooms.
9. Look at the other sources of risk that might be associated with the chemicals.
For example, have you got chemicals stored where vehicles can come into contact with them? Make sure you are storing them clear of that, if there is a potential for vehicles, you might have to look at putting bollards up or something of that nature.
10. Check your storage systems.
Make sure your fire-fighting equipment is suitable for the chemicals you are using and that you have got adequate fire fighting equipment and also in the event of a spill, make sure that you have got adequate spill kits. You have to make sure that we have for example, bunded pallets to put container on to make sure that if there is a spill it will contain it.
These are just some of the issues you should consider when storing chemicals at your workplace. If you have any specific questions about storage of hazardous chemicals, or chemicals in general, contact us through the website.