It goes without saying that storing hazardous substances safely will help protect your business, workers and the environment. If you deal with any potentially dangerous substances in your workplace, it is essential that you first understand how best to manage them. Remember, even something as simple as oil or coolant can pose a danger if not stored or handled correctly.
You must be able to identify each potentially hazardous substance on site along with its quantities and fully understand the properties and the associated risks of each in a way that complies with the relevant regulations.
Below we take a look at some best practice tips to help you with storing hazardous substances safely.
An essential document in correctly identifying any hazardous substance on site is the manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS). The SDS will tell you:
- The name of the substance and information on the manufacturer
- Hazard identification
- Any potential health hazards associated with the substance which could include damage to eyes, respiratory system etc.…
- Handling instructions ie. use in a ventilated area etc…
- Storage instructions ie. keep out of direct sunlight, store in a cool dry place, keep in original container etc…
- First aid information ie. the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to use, nearby access to an emergency eyewash, if swallowed to not induce vomiting etc…
- Environmental hazards ie. prevent from reaching drains, should not be released into the environment etc…
Now you have assessed the SDS, you will be in a much better place to understand any risks associated with the substances. Each substance will more than likely have multiple different hazards associated with it and it is your job to ensure you take into consideration all precautions required.
These can include, but are not limited to:
- The full education of staff handling dangerous substances
- The need for onsite emergency decontamination equipment
- The use of secure, compliant storage units
- Where the substance will be stored.
The SDS will have flagged any incompatibility issues and the subsequent reactions, which could include fire, a build-up of pressure, toxic fumes or even explosions. With that in mind, it is imperative that you follow the SDS’ advice closely and ensure your substances are stored and segregated with the utmost care.
Remember: You will need to list incompatible substances stored within your risk assessment, detail potential reactions and include your control measures to avoid an incident.
The easiest way to segregate chemicals is to keep them within a secure, bunded storage unit. Not only does this help prevent unauthorised access, should any container become damaged and leak, the contents will be safely contained within a liquid-tight sump.
Of course, should you be dealing with substances of a flammable nature, it is imperative that they are held within a specially designed flammable unit and that all potential ignition sources are controlled in addition to the obvious no smoking rule. The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) provide the legal framework you will need to comply with and it is supported by Approved Codes of Practice and Guidance which can be found on the Emtez Advice Centre and offers invaluable information and advice.
Finally, remember what conditions your hazardous substances need to be stored in. You will need to consider their exposure to heat, temperature fluctuation, ignition sources and or static discharge.
In the event that any onsite substance does spill or leak, it is imperative that you have a response system in place to ensure any liquid is cleaned up quickly and efficiently. This requires the need for a variety of solutions dependent on the size and nature of the spill, including spill kits, refills, and drain covers.
Whilst this may seem confusing, Emtez are experts in providing safe storage solutions for your business. No matter how small your workplace is, we can provide you with advice and solutions to ensure you are compliant and help mitigate risk. Drop us an email today and we will respond at a time that suits you.
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