Each organisation that uses hazardous chemicals has an obligation to ensure these chemicals are safely stored when not in use. However, storage requires more than keeping these chemicals out of reach of those who shouldn’t access them.
A comprehensive chemical storage solution meets the guidelines on the chemical safety data sheet and includes:
- Suitable containers
- Clear, accurate labels
- Secured storage locations, like flammable cabinets
- Segregated storage
It may require investment and attention, but your ability to store chemicals safely will do more than tick boxes. Keep reading to learn what difference the appropriate chemical storage solutions can make for your organisation.
Protect Workers, Visitors, and Communities
You don’t need to handle or store extremely dangerous chemicals to face the consequences of improper storage. Even what you might consider to be common cleaning chemicals require proper storage to protect people from potential exposures.
When stored improperly, chemicals become a risk to your colleagues, facilities, visitors, and even your local community and environment.
Without proper storage, you not only increase your workers’ risk of exposure to spills or fumes but also the potential for fire, explosion, and leaks into water supplies. And you may also make it difficult for emergency services to manage the scene and prevent further damage.
Avoid Damaging Your Chemical Stocks
Improper chemical storage can also damage the condition of your chemical stock. In addition to the catastrophic impacts highlighted above, chemicals stored incorrectly increase the risk of unwanted chemical reactions, damage to chemical stocks or even damage to the store itself.
For example, if you store acetic acid (a corrosive chemical), you must store it at the correct temperature. If the temperature is allowed to drop, it can lead the container to fail. A failed container constitutes a risk in itself, as it can allow the chemical to become exposed through a leak or improper seal. It can also damage the integrity of the chemical itself, leaving someone who handles it vulnerable, even if the change in condition goes unnoticed.
Even if no worker exposure occurs, the chemical stock is no longer good. You’ll need to follow the rules for the disposal of chemicals and then replace the lost stock, which can have significant knock-on effects for the wider business.
Legal Obligations Under COSHH
Opting for safe chemical storage is the right thing to do to protect the people who work with chemicals. However, there are also underlying legal obligations to store chemicals safely. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) requires any employer, public or private, to control substances, like hazardous chemicals, that can impact workers’ health.
COSHH requires you to complete a risk assessment, and then ensure you are storing substances in a way that minimises the risks associated with each chemical. Failure to do so can result in significant fines.
There are many reasons to invest in chemical safety, including chemical storage. The costs of failing to manage chemical hazards correctly are always substantially greater than meeting or exceeding COSHH regulations. Safety Storage Systems can work with you to find a solution that meets your budget – contact our expert team to get started.