The work of managing chemicals in a medical or healthcare environment is never done.
From hospitals and clinics through to every stage of the pharmaceutical and medical device production process, chemicals are a vital part of the medical industry. Acids and bases, catalysts, reagents, and solvents are necessary for research, manufacturing, and distribution. The medical industry has a duty not only to rules and regulations but ultimately to worker and patient safety.
Meeting chemical and hazardous material storage rules is an important part of managing these obligations. Here are some of the rules and regulations you must follow for safe chemical storage.
COSHH Assessment & NHS Requirements
The rules and regulations that apply to the medical industry fall under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH). UK law requires all hospitals, clinics, care centres, and medical production areas to follow when handling any type of hazardous chemical. To meet these requirements, you’ll need to complete regular COSHH risk assessments.
Why perform a COSHH risk assessment? It’s both a legal obligation and a risk management necessity. Chemical safety data sheets will provide storage recommendations for each individual chemical. But in the medical sector, you need to consider the broader impact of all your chemicals, not only for workers but for patients.
Your COSHH assessment, combined with information on your Safety Data Sheets, will help you meet many of the rules and requirements for chemical storage and management. However, your obligations don’t end there.
For chemicals like medical gases, you’ll need to also follow NHS guidelines as well as British Compressed Gases Association advice.
Special Provisions for Chemicals in Risk Phase H340, H350, and H350i
Not all chemicals are created equal. While you can manage common chemical hazards, like H221 (flammable gas) or H315 (causes skin irritation) with gas cylinder storage solutions or clinical waste stores, there are chemicals that feature special provisions.
Chemicals that fall under H340 (may cause genetic defects), H350 (may cause cancer), and H350i (may cause cancer by inhalation) require additional care.
If you can’t eliminate chemicals classified as H340, H350, and H350i entirely, you need to consider not only the COSHH requirements but additional measures including:
- Enclose the process and handling systems and procedures, unless you can’t do so with reasonable and practical measures
- Store and transport both the chemicals and chemical waste products in closed containers in a chemical cabinet and ensure they are clearly labelled and include the relevant warning signs
- Limit the number of people who could be exposed
- Identify any area in which exposure may occur and work to prevent contamination from moving beyond these areas
- Do not eat, drink, smoke, or apply cosmetics in an area liable to contamination
- Use warning signs to designate relevant areas
- Follow hygiene measures for cleaning procedures and personal hygiene
Are you a hospital, clinic, or medical manufacturing plant looking to update your chemical storage systems? The experts at Safety Storage work with the medical industry to ensure they meet their COSHH and NHS rules and requirements. Get in touch to discuss your facility’s needs and learn about our custom chemical and medical gas storage.