Containment barriers are an incredibly helpful piece of chemical storage equipment. They ensure chemical spills or leaks cannot leave the area from which they originate, without hampering your ability to move throughout your workspace. They are fitted across doorways and access points to create a liquid tight seal when closed.
However, although they are invaluable for increasing safety, there is some confusion about when they should be used:
- When using large volumes of chemicals
If you are storing large volumes of chemicals, the risk of considerable spills is higher. This places your workplace and employees in further danger as large spills spread quickly, limiting evacuation time. However, containment barriers enclose the spills, allowing your employees to exit the premises safely. This is especially helpful if the chemicals stored are corrosive, meaning they would cause injury if they touched your employees. Additionally, this has the benefit of making the mess easier to clean as the enclosed chemicals can be siphoned off safely.
- Where a risk of contamination exists
If there is a risk of contaminating local water supplies with chemicals, extra safety measures should always be taken. A containment barrier prevents chemicals from flowing towards drains, or outdoors where they may seep down to water tanks.
Another source of contamination to be considered is other chemicals within your stores. When certain chemicals mix together there can be volatile results, such as noxious gases, fire, explosions or corrosion. A containment barrier helps prevent chemicals in different areas from accidentally coming into contact with each other, increasing the safety of your workplace.
- Where a fire risk exists
Like the flames they combat, fire fighting measures such as water or dampening foam can damage your premises. If the liquid is allowed to flow throughout your workplace it can damage your floors and lower level cabinets and cause damp to take hold. Also the fire water can become contaminated with leaked chemicals and must then be treated as a hazard. The containment barriers will capture and retain the contaminated fire water.
Automatic Containment Barriers are triggered by a signal from your fire alarm panel and automatically descend, meaning that any immediate measures to contain the fire, such as sprinklers, are enclosed. These are a particularly good idea if you are working with highly flammable chemicals, or chemicals that may have a flammable or explosive reaction when combined, as this increases your fire risk.