Inhalation is one of the biggest risk factors when working with chemicals. Toxic fumes, airborne dusts, vapours and mists can linger in the workplace and have long term affects on the health of employees in the workplace. Ventilation is key to reducing the danger and so ventilated chemical storage cabinets can be beneficial in certain circumstances. Depending on your needs, air slots, pipes which release fumes outdoors, or mechanical fans may be used in chemical storage units to increase the safety of your workplace.
In Hot Temperatures
Temperature fluctuations can increase the emission of dangerous vapours from many chemicals. Therefore, if your storage is located in the path of direct sunlight, it is imperative to ensure proper ventilation is in place. This not only helps keep your chemicals at an appropriately cool level but it also reduces fume build up. In particular, having an extract fan fitted can help keep the chemicals at the correct temperature by creating a cooling breeze. For ultimate safety, ensure you are using the correct fan for the stored materials. For example, if you are using corrosive chemicals, ensure the fan is made of corrosive resistant materials. If you are using highly flammable chemicals, you must use an appropriate atex fan.
When Room Ventilation is Inadequate
While most rooms have air exchanges adequate for removing chemical vapours, if there is a limited air flow you should consider a ventilated chemical store. This includes rooms without windows, underground storage areas or smaller labs, which may not have as much airflow. If the chemicals are particularly toxic, they may need to be vented outdoors, to prevent inhalation by the staff. Outside vents should be checked regularly to ensure they are working correctly and have not become blocked by debris.
When Using a Walk-In Store
For safety, all walk-in stores should have ventilation. This ensures the safety of your personnel when they are working within the chemical storage unit by reducing built up fumes and ensuring there is enough air. As accidents do happen and workers could become trapped inside the walk-in store, ventilation is also essential for minimising the damage caused by such incidents. Simple ventilation slots are usually adequate for this type of chemical storage, unless used in a warm climate. If chemicals are to be decanted or mixed within the Chemical Store then an extract fan should be fitted.
When Storing Gases
If your chemical gases leak, the health of employees in the workplace is at risk from fume inhalation. Ventilated chemical storage cabinets help to reduce the danger by dispersing any such fumes. This prevents a chemical build-up that may be lethal, or have a volatile reaction if it comes into contact with other stored chemicals. If the gas is particularly concentrated or open flames are commonly used in your workspace, outside ventilation should be considered to increase chemical safety.
For more advice about chemical storage and maintaining the safety of your workplace, read our previous blog posts. If you’d like more information about upgrading your chemical storage, browse our range of chemical stores or get in touch today.