Chemical hazards require constant management when chemicals are in use. However, those same chemical hazards remain present in storage. As a result, COSHH regulations are prescriptive when it comes to safe chemical storage requirements.
Any safe chemical storage plan starts with your chemical inventory and risk assessment, using your chemical Safety Data Sheets as a foundation. After that, you can follow these principles to begin designing your chemical store.
Even if your chemicals aren’t a common target of theft, your security must at least ensure that those who shouldn’t access hazardous chemicals aren’t able to. Security plays a role even when you’re storing cleaning chemicals in a school. It means that only people who have chemical training should have access to hazardous chemicals, and ensure they are following correct procedure when making use of these chemicals.
Safe chemical storage always requires at least basic security. At the very least, you must be able to install locks on your store, whether these are deadbolts, padlocks, or an electronic swipe system. If you store valuable or specialist chemicals or have more acute security concerns, you might also consider installing cameras in the chemical store area.
Remember, if your chemicals are accessible to anyone, then they’re not stored safely.
Away from Sunlight, Heat, and Ignition
Chemicals should never be stored in direct sunlight, near sources of heat, or anywhere near a potential flame or source of ignition. Ensuring your chemicals are stored safely away from these hazards will help manage your risk of fires and explosions.
Sources of heat include boilers, furnaces, engines, or pipes.
What could be a source of ignition? These might include static electricity, tools, or equipment that could generate sparks.
Keeping chemicals away from these potential sources can be managed by using the correct chemical store, like flammable liquids cabinets, and isolating the location of the store itself within your facility.
Even when stored in the correct containers, chemicals still pose a risk because they release gases and vapours. Installing the appropriate ventilation system within your chemical stores and within your facility is a COSHH requirement.
For flammable chemicals, this usually includes an atex Extract Fan.
In cases where you manage toxic chemicals, you need a system that expels the vapours and gases into an external atmosphere and then a facility ventilation system to ensure there’s no build up of any toxic substance.
You can read more about chemical ventilation requirements in our blog post.
When temperatures swing widely, they can impact chemicals and either create hazards or cause stock to become unstable and thus unusable. For those chemicals on your inventory with strict temperature requirements, you’ll need a temperature controlled chemical storage unit, which features thermostats, temperature recording and monitoring, and temperature controlled zones.
Remember, temperature control must account for more than heat. As we’ve written elsewhere, cold weather and engineering failures that lead to significant drops in temperatures are also a threat. When chemicals freeze, they expand in their containers and compromise the integrity of the container.
Learn More from Safety Storage Systems’ Specialists
Safe chemical storage requirements should be a core component of general chemical safety at your site. But like the rest of your chemical risk assessment and action plan, your store needs to meet the unique needs of your inventory and facility.
Safety Storage Systems has helped clients safely store their chemicals and hazardous materials for 20 years. Contact our team of specialists today to learn more about our custom solutions.