Where large volumes of chemicals are stored on the business premises, a serious risk is posed to your employees and the surrounding environment. Therefore, it is imperative that best practices are followed to ensure the safety and welfare of your employees and your premises. There are 5 key areas to address to ensure chemical safety where large volumes of chemicals are present – organisation, segregation, ventilation, spill prevention and supervision.
Large volumes of chemicals should be stored in IBC containers, IBC tanks or chemical drums. These containers should be stored on pallet racks so that any leaks can be easily identified and so as to keep the chemical store as organised and efficiently laid out as possible. There should be sufficient space between each container so that employees can safely remove or load a container easily on or off of the pallet rack. All containers should be clearly labelled.
Where bulk liquids are stored, you need to ensure that the chemical store is appropriately ventilated so as to vent any vapours displaced from the chemicals. A ventilated chemical store is highly advised for storing bulk chemical containers as it can adequately extract dangerous vapours.
Storing large volumes of incompatible chemicals together can present a serious chemical hazard. The greater the volume of incompatible chemicals stored together, the greater the potential explosion or fire which may result. Refer to the Material Safety Data Sheets to ensure that incompatible chemicals are correctly segregated and to minimise the risk of a chemical accident. It is also advised that you segregate vehicle routes from the area in which large volumes of chemicals are stored.
Storing large volumes of chemicals on site requires the need for daily supervision. A staff member should be assigned to check for leaks or spills daily or during each shift. There should be restricted access regarding the entry of personnel into a chemical storage area – only authorised personnel should be responsible for entering and supervising the area. Inventory records should be kept regarding all chemicals stored on site with daily checks performed on the on-site inventory of large chemical containers.
Any leaks or spills from containers storing large volumes of chemicals can present a serious chemical hazard so it is important to ensure adequate spillage protection. Chemicals in IBCs should be stored on IBC bunds, which can provide spillage protection for up to 1,000 litres. Alternatively, you can turn palletracking into bunded chemical storage solutions, offering spillage protection for up to 1,100 litres through the use of pallet rack bunds.
It is important to draft an appropriate plan of action to ensure that your business effectively addresses all of the above 5 factors on an ongoing basis. Adhering to these best practices will help your business to protect the safety and health of your employees as well as complying with chemical safety legislature in the U.K. For information on chemical safety, chemical storage and relevant best practices, read our previous blog posts.