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When does a custom chemical storage solution make the most sense for your business?

Storing chemicals in a way that protects workers and the integrity of the product is a complex process in itself, even before adding in legislation like Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2005 (COSHH) and other workplace health and safety regulations.

At Safety Storage Systems, we serve customers across many industries, including manufacturing, medical, construction, oil & gas, and even schools and education facilities. Based on our experience, we’ll walk you through four indicators that typically signal the need for custom storage options.

1. Difficult Site & Access Requirements

What are the dimensions of your chemical storage site? What kind of environment is it (inside, outside, etc.)? Is it large enough to store your chemical inventory? What does access look like? Is there any exposure to sunlight? How many additional measures do you need to control worker access to the area?

The answer to all of these questions is highly individual and depends of the layout of your building and site, regulatory requirements from both COSHH and your industry, and the chemicals you store. Very often, complexity in the answers to the above questions indicates the need for a custom chemical storage solution.

2. High Volume Storage Requirements

Building regulations and fire safety as well as other regulatory requirements carefully limit the volume of hazardous materials any business may store. If your use exceeds these limits, then you will very likely need a custom chemical storage solution to meet those regulations.

As an example, one of our clients, Abbott Pharmaceuticals, required custom storage for 44 pallets of hazardous chemicals. Together, we chose a custom Bunded Chemical Warehouse, delivered via prefabricated modules to be assembled on site to meet safety, quality, and regulatory demands.

Read the Abbott Pharmaceuticals case study here

For additional reference, here are the building regulations/standards containing storage limits for:

When is a custom chemical storage solution required... Learn more in our recent blog piece.

3. Complex Regulatory Environments

Not all businesses need custom chemical storage, even when they regularly store hazardous materials.

However, the regulatory environment in your industry often plays an outsized role in determining whether you can choose an off-the-shelf or custom chemical storage solution.

The aviation services sector is an excellent example of an industry subject to intense scrutiny both by the UK government and international authorities. Because both the industry and chemicals are heavily regulated and the chemicals are highly dangerous, businesses in this sector not only see greater value in a custom system but also find it is the correct path to regulatory compliance.

For example, one of our aviation services clients used our Temperature Controlled, Fire-Protected, Flammable Store built to the client’s specifications and included adjustable shelving, lighting & temperature control, fire detection, and the option to link it to the site fire alarm panel.

Read our aviation industry case study

Meanwhile, for schools or education facilities storing chemicals for cleaning and maintenance purposes, off-the-shelf external bunded chemical storage cabinets are often the right option for safe chemical storage and managing COSHH regulations.

4. Chemical Compatibility Requirements

Chemical compatibility is an often underestimated contributor in designing chemical storage systems. Because so many chemicals often cross the classification boundary and belong to more than one hazard class, you’ll have different requirements based on how you choose to store them. It’s also worth noting that just because two chemicals are in the same class doesn’t mean they are compatible. For example, nitric acid falls into two categories: acid and oxidiser. If you’re already storing acids, you might choose to place it in an area with organic acids. However, it is not compatible with every acid, and so care must be taken to ensure it’s stored correctly.

Additionally, even when chemicals are technically compatible, sometimes both UK and international regulations or standards will require them to be separated. Nitrates and organics are a good example: these two chemical hazards will not create a reaction, but sometimes regulations can mandate they remain separate.

It’s not hard to see how storage schemes based solely on hazard classes can result in failure and where custom storage options can help navigate more complex chemical inventories.

Learn More About Building a Custom Chemical Storage Solution

Safe chemical storage is everyone’s goal. At the same time, the storage of hazardous materials is complicated both in nature but also by regulatory requirements and the unique properties of an individual site.

An off-the-shelf solution works in many instances where you’re storing a relatively straightforward chemical inventory. However, custom storage options are often the key to chemical safety whenever additional complexity is involved.

At Safety Storage Systems, we serve customers across a wide range of industries. We can help you build custom storage options designed exactly to your needs. Get in touch with one of our experts today to learn more.