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Lifting the Lid on Bunded Drum Storage Compliance: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Paul Smith
Paul Smith

Can you confidently say what’s in your drums — and how to store them safely and responsibly, in a manner that corresponds with the details in their data sheets?

Bunded storage has compliance applications beyond IBCs. Much like your intermediate bulk containers, drums are typically filled with hazardous chemicals or liquids requiring specific storage conditions. Knowing how to store them in a manner that complies with the manufacturer’s guidelines and wider industry directives is more than just a tick-box exercise.

  • Most obviously, health and safety is a chief concern. Incorrect drum storage could put your employees, other site visitors, or the general public at risk of harm.
  • There’s also the cost factor to consider. Liquid that has spoiled will need to be wasted and replaced. Ingredients can get expensive, especially in bulk, and waste removal companies typically charge by volume, meaning more waste also drives up costs.
  • That waste contributes to your environmental impact. An operating model in which large volumes of materials are regularly wasted and replaced when a solution for preventing this is readily available doesn’t look good for your environmental footprint, especially if those materials could damage the environment if wasted irresponsibly.  

Bunded storage goes a long way to solving these challenges and preventing these issues. But it isn’t quite as simple as buying up the first unit you can find and considering the matter closed. There’s quite a bit more to it to ensure that the storage solutions you choose to hold your drums will actually keep them and their contents safe, and your compliance in order.

The following questions are just a snapshot of the talking points I cover when discussing this with our customers every week. How confidently can you answer them for your operations?

Copy of Copy of HD2 (10)

“Are you aware that some of the products you store in drums on-site have recommended storage temperatures?” 

Bunds play an important role in containing any potential leaks or spills, but the rest of the unit must be capable of maintaining the temperature threshold relevant to the substances in its drums. On-site placement of the unit is another factor — for example, a unit exposed to broad daylight could see its internal temperature rise above the compliance threshold. 

Are you aware which chemicals or liquids you store in drums have recommended storage temperatures? Do you know what those temperatures are, or where they’re documented? And, if required, could you locate the relevant data sheets for those substances?

“Investing in bunded drum storage without taking the time to consider how they’ll monitor and regulate its internal temperature is one of the key oversights I hear customers make when I speak with them about their order.”

Regulatory bodies often mandate specific temperature conditions for the storage of hazardous materials to ensure safety and environmental protection. Non-compliance could result in penalties, fines, or legal liabilities for the organisation, as well as wasted product.

Copy of Copy of HD2 (13)

“Have you ever had to waste drums because you’ve been unable to meet the recommended storage conditions?”

Product loss and associated waste costs won’t just hit you financially. The need to waste drums and their contents due to the inability to comply with their recommended storage conditions can be a significant challenge for businesses, with several implications.

For one, wasting drums disrupts operational efficiency and continuity. If the materials were essential for ongoing processes, it may lead to delays in production or supply chain disruptions, with the potential to damage customer satisfaction and business relationships.

“Wasted drums as a direct result of non-compliant storage conditions underscore the importance of proper storage management practices. The choice of bunded container is key, but it must be considered alongside processes for monitoring conditions diligently and training employees.”

Consistently failing to meet recommended storage conditions and consequently wasting drums can also harm the organisation's reputation more generally. Customers, suppliers, investors, stakeholders, and regulatory authorities may view the organisation as unreliable or negligent in its operations, damaging its credibility and competitiveness in the market.

How often has this happened to you? What was the value of the goods that had to be destroyed, and did your waste management provider ever invoice you for disposing of a quantity of product that has spoiled but which needs specialist handling to remove? 

“From which drums are your employees decanting chemicals into containers for use elsewhere on site?”

When dealing with drums, it's common for individuals to transfer contents into smaller containers for use in the factory. However, adhering to the information outlined in the data sheet is crucial during this process. It's possible that specific safety precautions, such as wearing goggles, a protective face mask, and gloves, are required during decanting. Unfortunately, safety precautions are often overlooked, leading to compliance issues. 

If your operations involve decanting from drums, it's important to consider factors such as drum size, whether they’re palletised or not, and the defined decanting process. This information is crucial to whoever is accountable for employee safety and compliance. 

I can readily identify these kinds of oversights through inspection, particularly when I spot signs of corrosive damage to the bund or elsewhere across the site. My aim is never to name and shame. By escalating potential risks to the accountable person, I’m encouraging a shift towards safer methods that prioritise employee well-being and drum safety compliance. 

“Decanting is easily achievable with drums by simply attaching a tap to the bottom, but it's common for businesses to be unaware of the decanting activities taking place on-site, making it even more imperative to address these safety concerns proactively.”

Copy of Copy of HD2 (14)

Drumming up awareness for better storage compliance

In every organisation, there’ll be a member of staff who’s ultimately responsible for making sure that high standards are kept relating to the safe storage, handling, and distribution of the chemicals and liquids used and stored across your site. That person might be you.

Wherever they sit in your organisation, the bunded drum storage buck stops with them, so it’s vital that you have the right containers in place but also the right processes surrounding them to keep your people safe, your premises secure, and your operations compliant.

Everyone storing potentially hazardous chemicals, in drums or any other container, should be able to access the support and guidance that they need, when they need it. Regardless of whether you need a certain type of bunded unit or not, I’m here to walk your site, review your operations, and provide clear, easy-to-follow recommendations you can use to keep your drums and their contents in optimal condition, ready for when you next need them.