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IBC Compliance: How Are You Storing Your Intermediate Bulk Containers?

Paul Smith
Paul Smith

When it comes to storing your IBCs on the right side of industry directives, there’s more to correct compliance than a bunded unit.

We all know the health and safety benefits of a bund. But bunded storage doesn’t automatically ensure intermediate bulk container (IBC) compliance. As a result, many compliance officers might assume that their business (and their interests as the accountable person) are protected when the storage conditions in question aren’t fit for purpose.

On site visits, I often see non-compliant IBC storage. It’s no one’s fault in particular but it opens up the business to risk, and because you think you’re covered, you’re not aware of it.

More often still, I catch it when an inquiry for a bunded IBC storage solution comes through. When this happens, one of the first things I’ll do is call back the buyer, because it’s more likely than not that the unit they think they need isn’t actually what will keep them compliant.

We cover a lot on those calls. What follows are some of the points we discuss, the answers to which help me understand the customers’ setups, their safety requirements, and what it will take to keep their people safe, their premises secure, and their records clean. 

By sharing them, I hope they help you to achieve the same insights for your operations.

Bunded Storage

“Do you have any ISO accreditations that you need to adhere to?” 

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) accreditations demonstrate a commitment to quality, safety, and regulatory compliance. As a result, they’re widely recognised and respected globally. This makes them a helpful area to dig into first. 

  • Do you know which ISO standards you need to comply with? 
  • How have you incorporated ISO’s requirements into your own compliance practices?
  • What assurances or examples can you give me to this effect?

ISO standards are one of the first things I ask about because depending on how you answer these questions, I can use the relevant ISO standards to get a good understanding of the specific criteria you need to meet with your operations.


“Do you adhere to a formalised health and safety procedure every week?”

Health and safety (H&S) and compliance come hand in hand. It’s important that we can talk openly about whether or not you adhere to formalised H&S procedures because doing so will help protect you from potential fines and other legal liabilities that result from violations. 

Your adherence to wider H&S procedures will also impact IBC compliance specifically. For example, does making sure that your IBCs are appropriately bunded form part of your weekly/monthly H&S inspection? If formalised H&S procedures aren’t routinely followed, this will be unlikely. Non-compliant IBC storage could be indicative of a much wider H&S issue.

“In the past, I’ve spoken with customers who weren't aware that the chemicals stored in their IBCs were classified under a flammable category, requiring a specialist storage environment. By inviting me onto their sites, we were able to solve this compliance issue before it became a health and safety one.”

While some customers adhere to strict H&S procedures every week and need limited guidance around their IBC storage specifically, for others the uncertainty surrounding how to store their IBCs in a way that corresponds with the manufacturer’s guidelines and governing regulations is actually just one H&S failing that could be putting the business at great risk.

Using a pushback solution? Learn more about the compliance risks here.

Copy of Copy of HD2 (6)

“Have you ever noticed that some of the IBCs you store on site are not bunded, even on simple spill pallets?”

The potential risks posed by inadequately contained IBCs, such as the possibility of spills or leaks causing environmental harm or safety hazards, could have serious implications for your operations, but it’s also possible that the liquids or chemicals stored in the IBCs aren’t hazardous or have a low risk assessment, in which case bunding might not be necessary.

“From an insurance point of view, it’s vital that the chemicals you hold on-site are secured in a compliant manner. In many cases, the storage units used to house the IBCs containing these liquids must adhere to certain parameters, such as a temperature threshold, as set out on the relevant data sheet.” 

When asking this question, I’m looking to open up the conversation around your IBCs specifically while gauging your awareness of how IBCs should be stored, how closely you’ve followed the relevant data sheets for the materials stored in the IBCs, and if you’re deviating in any way from standard safety protocols associated with the storage of those materials.

Storage compliance isn’t just an IBC issue. Lift the lid on bunded drum storage here. 

Copy of Copy of HD2 (8)

How confident are you that your IBCs are bunded in accordance with your compliance obligation?

As the accountable person for your site, you’re under a duty of care from the outset to make sure these materials are stored in a manner that corresponds with their safeguarding. If you’re not familiar with this, or you’re feeling less confident in this area, I’m here to help. 

Through these questions and more, I can take all that uncertainty off your hands.

  • What types of liquids are you storing on site?
  • Can you locate the data sheets for these liquids?
  • Where is the storage unit going to be sat?
  • If outside, is it going to sit against a building wall or external boundary?

In a single call, you’ll be able to offload any concerns you have as well as ask any questions of your own. It might be that you don’t need an additional storage unit at all, but if you do, I’ll ensure it’s the right solution for your site, as well as supplying additional information on your site layout, training, and general H&S procedures where they cross over with compliance.

Keeping on top of all this is never easy but I know exactly what to look for to bring your operations back into compliance. If you’d like to chat, I’m here to help.