The automotive industry is the end destination for approximately 10% of the world’s chemicals, and even as the automotive industry changes and electric vehicles test the supply chain, auto manufacturers’ use of chemicals will likely remain relatively stable.
Whether your business manufactures car parts or treats paint in an auto body shop, you can expect to continue to order, manage, and dispose of the same chemicals as you did five or ten years ago. At the same time, that doesn’t mean your chemical management plan should remain stagnant.
Here are a few things automotive manufacturing and repair specialists need to keep in mind when organising chemical storage requirements.
Update Risk Assessments for Each Work Zone
A chemical risk assessment is a key part of managing COSHH compliance and keeping workers safe from the chemicals they use everyday.
While a traditional risk assessment would cover the chemical hazards, who is affected, and your current risk management strategy, you may find it prudent to break your chemical hazard process down by risk zone to better manage the potential effects:
Your risk zones include:
- Production areas
- Storage areas
- Decanting areas
- Valves and pumps
- Open baths
For example, your production area chemical risk assessment at an automotive parts manufacturer might include:
- Paint application and removal chemicals
- Chemical pre-treatments, surface treatments and conversion coatings
- Cleaning chemicals
These will allow you to better appreciate the impact that the size and set-up of the production area may have on the use and risk of the chemicals.
Complete Regular PPE and Emergency Inspections
Workers in the automotive industry can’t avoid chemicals. Despite increased chemical tracking and compliance requirements, it still takes thousands of chemicals to manufacture a typical automobile.
As a result, it’s vital that all workers have constant access to the PPE needed to protect themselves from spills, splashes, and fumes.
You should complete regular PPE inspections as part of your chemical management program, but it’s also important to empower workers to run these inspections on their own. A missing stitch or a glove that’s too small can render a glove almost entirely ineffective against many chemicals.
It’s also important to inspect eye washes, face washes, and safety showers for faults. In an ideal world, you will never need to use them, but you need to know they function should an emergency arise.
Re-Evaluate Your Package, Container, and Storage Choices
Like chemical hazard assessments, you also have prescribed chemical training to deploy to anyone who works with hazardous chemicals. At the same time, you know that chemicals don’t only pose a hazard during active handling. Problems with chemical storage can lead to hazards and even incidents with chemical handling, so it’s important to identify and resolve these issues early.
Some of the issues associated with chemical containers include:
- Issues with resealing the container, leading to leaks or spills
- Poor handholds, leading to a risk of dropping the container and chemical spills or splashes
- Inappropriate container choices for liquid wastes, leading to fume exposure
- Damage to the appropriate containers, leading to leaks, spills, and handling issues
Not sure if your containers or storage choices could be a problem? Look back at your incident and injury reports from the past year and compare it with your safety inspections. You could be seeing issues not with operator error but with chemical storage, such as not storing chemicals in appropriate chemical storage cabinets or leaving containers on the ground without a spill pallet.
If in doubt, get in touch with a chemical storage specialist for expert advice on your automotive chemical storage plan.
Safety Storage Systems UK provides expert chemical storage for the automotive industry in the UK. Call, email, or request a quote to get in touch with our team of experts and build a more robust chemical management plan.