Hazardous Material Storage 101

Author: Pro-Guard Environmental Solutions |

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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…

  • 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

Compressed Gases

  • 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.

Oxidizing Substances

  • 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