How to store chemicals in the workplace
Jun 14, 2018

How to store chemicals in the workplace

Walter Ingles Walter Ingles

If your organisation uses chemicals, it is very important that you implement a number of control measures to ensure that the people and property of your organisation are protected from the risk associated with hazardous chemicals.

When managing the risks associated with hazardous chemicals in the workplace, it is very important that you follow the STOREMASTA methodology. This methodology has four phases, and all phases must be applied to ensure that your workplace is protected from the risk associated with hazardous chemicals. The four phases of this methodology are

  • Identify
  • Assess
  • Control
  • Sustain

If you do not apply this methodology, the chemical storage solution that you implement may not be the correct solution to mitigate the risk associated with the hazardous substances stored onsite.

You can find out more about how to apply this methodology by reading our article on how to manage chemical hazards in the workplace.

Once you have identified and assessed the magnitude of the risks associated with your hazardous chemicals, you will have sufficient data to determine the required storage solutions to mitigate the risks associated with your hazardous chemicals.

When you are ready to implement your hazardous chemical storage solution, there are a number of factors that must be considered. These factors are outlined below.

Segregate hazardous chemicals from incompatible substances

If incompatible chemical substances mix, it can result in violent chemical reactions. Substances that react dangerously are those substances that react in a manner that directly creates a hazard due to the reaction:

  • Producing an explosion
  • Being violent
  • Producing a potentially explosive combination of products
  • Producing toxic vapours or gases
  • Producing fire or rapid evolution of heat

Violent chemical reactions can harm people, property and the environment. To reduce the risk of violent chemical reactions, incompatible classes of dangerous goods must be segregated. Segregation can be achieved by separating incompatible classes of dangerous goods by certain distances or storing them in separate safety cabinets. The required distances for segregating incompatible classes of dangerous goods can be found in the dangerous goods segregation chart.

Download a FREE Dangerous Goods Segregation Chart

Separate flammable chemicals from ignition sources

If you identify that a number of your hazardous substances are classified as flammable liquids, solids or gases, you will have to separate these substances from ignition sources.

If flammable gases, liquids or solids come into contact with an ignition source, it will result in a fire that could harm people and property.

To reduce the risk of fires, all flammable chemicals must be stored in compliant flammable cabinets and separated from ignition sources by a distance of at least 3 metres.

Keep a register of hazardous chemicals

To ensure that everyone in the workplace is aware of the hazardous chemicals that are stored onsite, it is important to keep a register of hazardous chemicals.

A register of hazardous chemicals is a list of the product names of all the hazardous chemicals used, handled and stored onsite. The register must also have a copy of the safety data sheets for all the hazardous substances used in the workplace. This register must be updated as new chemicals are brought into the workplace and as the use of old hazardous chemicals are discontinued. All employees that are involved with the storage, handling and management of hazardous chemicals must have access to this register of hazardous chemicals.

It is also a good practice to keep a copy of the safety data sheets of each hazardous substance close to the area where they are stored. This can be done keeping the safety data sheets in a document storage box that is mounted on the side of the safety cabinet.

Store hazardous chemicals in a compliant chemical storage cabinet

When hazardous chemicals are used in the workplace, it is very important to ensure that the hazardous chemicals are stored in a compliant chemical storage cabinet. The purpose of a chemical storage cabinet is to:

  • Protect the chemicals within the cabinet against damage.
  • Provide segregation between incompatible chemicals.
  • Contain spills.
  • Allow time for the escape of personnel in the event of a fire.

If hazardous chemicals are not stored in a compliant safety cabinet, it can increase the risk of fires and violent chemical reactions from the mixing of incompatible chemicals.

For a chemical storage cabinet to be compliant it must be manufactured in full conformance to the relevant Australian Standards. There are 9 different dangerous goods classifications and each classification has a separate Australian Standard that outlines the design requirements for that particular dangerous goods classification. Safety cabinets used for the storage of flammable liquids must comply with AS1940 and cabinets used for the storage of corrosive substances must comply with AS3780.

Next steps

Hazardous chemicals have the potential to cause much harm to people, property and the environment. To reduce the risk of harm to the people and property of your workplace, it is very important to store your hazardous chemicals in a safe and compliant manner. Safe storage of hazardous chemicals can be achieved by following the guidelines outlined in this article and adhering to the requirements of the Australian Standards. If you would like more information on how to manage the risks associated with hazardous chemicals, download our FREE eBook by clicking on the image below:

How to manage the risk of hazardous chemicals in the workplace

Walter is STOREMASTA’s Dangerous Goods Adviser. He loves helping business reduce the risk that Dangerous Goods pose upon their employees, property and the environment through safe and compliant dangerous goods storage solutions.

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