Hazardous Material Storage 101
1) Why are Hazardous Material Storage Units a critical addition to your safety system?
Chemical fires and explosions have some of the highest causality rates of all workplace accidents. Properly storing chemicals is an important step in protecting your employees and workplace. Improper storage leaves your workplace exposed to lengthy WCB and insurance claims. If chemicals are stored improperly there is a risk of flammable chemicals igniting, toxic gas/fumes being released, and accidental spills or releases.
2) Best practice for storing chemicals.
Each chemical has specific instructions on how and where to store them. This information can be found on the MSDS or from the supplier where the chemical was purchased. When it comes to storing chemicals safely there is no one size fits all method, but there are a few simple guidelines to reduce the risk of an incident in your workplace.
- Do properly label all stored materials
- Do have a separate storage area away from worksite and emergency exits
- Do train employees on safe work practices and emergency procedures
- Do have proper emergency equipment readily available
- Do use a tray to contain potential spills
- Do keep empty containers closed
- Do minimize clutter
- Do inspect area regularly
- Do not store incompatible materials together
- Do not store in alphabetical order
- Do not store in a fumehood
- Do not store chemicals in residential fridge or freezer
- Do not store directly on the floor
- Do not store chemicals on work surfaces
- Do not store above eye level
3) How to store common types of chemicals
Each chemical will require different safety precautions depending on its hazard. The chemical specific handling and storing instructions can be found on the MSDS. Below are some of the common hazards and their specific guidelines.
- Eliminate sources of ignition
- Store in approved flammable containment storage
- Bond and ground metal containers
- Do not store near oxidizing materials
- Use manufacturer approved storage containers
- Do not store acids and bases together
- Store oxidizing gases separate from other acids
- Secure containers in an upright position on wall or rack
- Store empty contains in a different location
- Clearly mark empty containers
- Keep storage area dry to prevent corrosion of cylinders
- Don’t store for extend periods of time.
- Store in a cool dry location
- Store away from other chemicals
- Minimize the amount of strong oxidizers stored on site
4) Chemical storage classifications
Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) classifies chemicals into 7 classes based on their primary hazard. According to TDG in 2018 95.2% of chemical incidents involved five dangerous goods classification, class 3, class 2, class 8, class 5, and class 9. Knowing which chemical classification, you have onsite can help you better protect your workplace.
Class 2 – Compressed gas
Class 3 – Flammable Liquids
Class 4 – Flammable solids and reactive substances
Class 5 – Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides
Class 6 – Poisons and toxic substances
Class 8 – Corrosives
Class 9 – Miscellaneous hazardous waste