Ventilation Guidelines for Chemical Storage

11th July 2018

COSSH chemical storage best practice guidelines indicate that a chemical store should be well ventilated. If the store does not have adequate ventilation, you should consider investing in a ventilated chemical storage unit.  We’ve outlined guidelines for ventilation in chemical storage units, to help promote chemical safety in the workplace.  

To learn more about workplace chemical safety, read about the dangers of chemical spills, and the importance of responding immediately.  

General Chemical Storage Guidelines 

Place chemical storage cabinets in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight and away from any possible heat or ignition source. Temperature fluctuations in many chemicals can serve to increase vapour emissions. 

The design of any vent opening in the cabinet wall should not compromise the structural strength of the cabinet. 

Flammables StorageVentilation 

Where flammables are stored within a chemical storage cabinet, any ventilation system should exert fumes to the outside atmosphere and away from any ignition sources or places where people are likely to congregate. 

A suitable mechanical fan should be constructed of non‐sparking blades and shrouds and be capable of dispersing flammable vapours or gases. 

Ventilation ducting of a flammables cabinet should provide at least the same level of fire protection as the cabinet walls and be resistant to vapours, fumes or dust in the cabinet. 

Steel piping is recommended for ventilation ducting of a cabinet containing flammable chemicals. PVC ventilation piping should not be used for a flammables cabinet as it could not withstand the excessive temperatures resulting from a fire. 

Flammables vapours are more dense than air so the vapours can accumulate at floor level. The extraction system should ensure that the vapours at low level are also extracted. 

Toxic Chemicals Ventilation 

Where toxic substances are stored within a chemical storage unit, the ventilation system should be able to sufficiently ensure that the concentration of any toxic substance within the breathing zone of any person using the cabinet is as low as possible. 

The cabinet should be vented to the external atmosphere, i.e. outside the building, in a way that allows safe dispersal of vapours, fumes or dusts without entering the room in which the cabinet is situated. 

The circular vents that are installed in the sides of some cabinets can allow toxic or flammable vapours to escape into the adjoining area. Therefore they should be kept securely closed and ensure that they cannot be breached by any pressure that may build up within the cabinet. 

Corrosive Chemicals Ventilation 

Where corrosive chemicals are stored in a chemical storage cabinet, the mechanical fan should be constructed of corrosive resistant blades and shrouds and be capable of dispersing corrosive vapours, gases, or mists. The ventilation ducting should provide at least the same level of corrosion protection as the cabinet walls and be resistant to any vapours or fumes which may be exerted form the chemicals stored in the cabinet. 

This guide should help you to achieve a safer, more effective system of chemical storage in the workplace. As always, you should refer to your chemical’s MSDS for advice on storage and handling of specific chemicals. You can learn more about our ventilated chemical storage units here. 

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