Chemical Drum Storage: 7 Things You Need To Consider

Originally published January 6, 2022 01:20:44 AM, updated January 19, 2022

Are you storing drums of chemicals at your worksite? Whether you’re carrying flammable liquids, corrosive substances, oxidizing agents, toxic substances or organic peroxides in your business, there are specific requirements that you must meet if you want to store your chemicals in a safe and compliant manner. When looking at oil drum, fuel drum or outdoor chemical storage, there are several key factors that you must consider if you want to create a safe working environment. In this blog, we detail 7 things you need to consider when selecting your chemical drum storage for your workplace.

How Do You Store Chemical Drums?

When you’re storing chemical drums, you must always ensure that your storage is reducing the risks associated with the class of Dangerous Goods that you’re carrying. Afterall, storing large quantities of chemicals can potentially increase the risk of human harm, fire or environmental damage.

 To make it easier for you to select your chemical drum storage containers, we’ve detailed 7 factors that you should consider.

 These considerations are:

  • Spill containment
  • Impact damage protection
  • Chemical resistance
  • Ventilation
  • Compliant construction
  • Dangerous Goods signage
  • Potential for customisation

We’ll now go into further detail about each of these 7 key considerations, so you can better understand how these factors can affect the safety and compliance of your chemical drum storage facilities.

1. Spill Containment

When you’re housing drums of chemicals in your workplace, there are multiple risks that must be managed if you are to create a safe working environment. Chemical spills can cause a wide range of issues with risks specific to the class of Dangerous Goods that you’re carrying. There may be the risk of asphyxiation or harm, an increased incident of fire or explosion, the pollution of waterways and soil, and property damage.

Due to the larger quantities of chemicals involved, drum storage containers must have the provision for compliant chemical spill containment.

Each class of Dangerous Goods has a specific set of requirements related to spill containment capacities. You should always refer to the appropriate Australian Standard to ascertain all requirements for storage for your Dangerous Goods class.

What Is The Required Capacity For Chemical Spill Containment?

Some spill containment capacity requirements, taken from the appropriate Australian Standard, are listed below.

Class 3 Flammable Liquids

Section 4.4.3 Spillage containment from the Australian Standard AS 1940:2017 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids explains the spill containment capacity for this class of Dangerous Goods.

 

The capacity of the spillage containment compound shall be at least 100% of the volume of the largest package plus 25% of the storage capacity up to 10 000 L, together with 10% of the storage capacity between 10000 L and 100000 L, and 5% above 100000 L. 

Class 5.1 Oxidizing Agents

Section 4.4 of AS 4326:2008 – The storage and handling of oxidizing agents states that:

 

Where liquid oxidizing agents are kept, the storage area shall be provided with a means of either containing a spill or diverting it to a safe containment area within the boundaries of the premises. The net capacity of any containment area shall be— 

  1. for PG I liquids, 100% of the aggregate volume of liquids kept; and
  2. for liquids of PG II or III, 25% of the aggregate volume of liquids kept.

In any case, the net capacity of any spill containment provision shall be at least the capacity of the largest container kept. 

Class 5.2 Organic Peroxides

In Section 4.7.4 Spillage control of AS 2714:2008 – The storage and handling of organic peroxides, it explains that:

 

The floor of each indoor room or compartment shall either  

  • incorporate a compound that holds at least 25% of the volume of liquid organic peroxides stored or the capacity of the largest container, whichever is the greater; or 
  • be provided with an enclosed drain that
    is fitted with a flame trap; and leads to a bunded compound or impervious sump.

Where fire sprinklers are installed, the capacity of the compound or sump shall be increased to include the output of the fire sprinklers over a 20 minute period. 

Class 6 Toxic Substances

AS/NZS 4452-1997 – The storage and handling of toxic substances explains in Section 4.4 that: 

 

The net capacity of any compound shall be— 

  1. For Packing Group I liquids, 100% of the aggregate volume of liquids kept.
  2. For Packing Group II and III liquids, 25% of the aggregate volume of liquids kept.

In any case, the net capacity of any compound shall be at least the capacity of the largest container kept. 

Class 8 Corrosive Substances

In Section 4.4 of AS 3780:2008 The storage and handling of corrosive substances, the spill containment capacity is detailed for package stores that house corrosive substances.

 

The net capacity of any compound shall be not less than whichever is the greater of— 

  1. 25% of the aggregate volume of liquids kept; or
  2. the capacity of the largest container kept;

but need not exceed 5000L where only packages are kept.

2. Impact Damage Protection

When storing chemical drums in the outdoor environment, there is always the increased risk of impact damage. If you’re storing your chemicals outdoors, they could be hit by a moving vehicle or impacted by debris such as a falling tree branch. Therefore, it’s important that your outdoor drum storage containers are designed and constructed to protect your Dangerous Goods from the hazards associated with impact damage.

Using heavy-duty, corrosion-free construction materials is an important factor to consider when choosing your drum storage containers. If your site is particularly prone to severe weather conditions, you may opt for added protection from the elements by choosing a container with a Region D Cyclone Rating. All the STOREMASTA outdoor units are already constructed with a Region C Cyclone Rating to suit our harsh climate. However, in some circumstances, such as a workplace that’s situated in a cyclone-prone area, choosing a rating can be an important risk control measure to consider.

3. Chemical Resistance

When you’re storing drums of Dangerous Goods, there is the potential for some chemicals to attack certain construction materials. This not only destroys the effectiveness of the chemical storage container and increases risk for your business, but it reduces the durability and lifespan of the storage equipment.

 Chemically resistant construction materials — such as fibreglass floors and poly sump liners for Class 8 Corrosive Substances storage containers — provide protection against chemical attack. If a spill or leak does occur, the flooring and sump liners of the container will not be susceptible to corrosion.

 STOREMASTA are one of the few manufacturers who install fibreglass floors and poly sumps in outdoor chemical storage containers. We also use heavy duty fibreglass floors in our range of walk in stores, as this material offers superior durability as well as providing a non-slip surface for staff to walk on.

4. Ventilation

As we’ve touched on earlier, the Australian Standards explain the requirements for chemical storage for each class of Dangerous Goods.

 Some classes of Dangerous Goods — such as Class 3 Flammable Liquids and Class 6 Toxic Substances — emit hazardous vapours that can result in asphyxiation and human harm. When storing large quantities of chemicals in the workplace, you must always comply with the Workplace Exposure Standards For Airborne Contaminants. This comprehensive document details each chemical that emits a hazardous vapour and lists the exposure standards that relate to that product. Following the requirements of the exposure standards will help you comply with your duties under the WHS Act and Regulations.

If a chemical drum storage container isn’t constructed with adequate ventilation, you could be putting your staff at risk and putting your business in breach of WHS Regulations. High concentrations of hazardous vapours in your chemical stores must be managed with a ventilation system. Natural ventilation solutions (such as louvres on outdoor stores) or mechanical ventilation systems may be required for your chemical drum stores if you can’t keep your hazardous vapours within the limits set by the Workplace Exposure Standards.

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 5. Compliant Construction

 When you’re handling and storing Dangerous Goods in your business, it’s important to choose storage solutions that are constructed to meet the requirements of the Australian Standards.

 The exact storage specifications required for each class of Dangerous Goods are detailed in the relevant Australian Standard. For example, Class 3 Flammable Liquids should be stored as per the requirements set out in AS 1940:2017 The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. This standard is arguably the most comprehensive in terms of risk control measures required for the safe storage of flammable liquids.

Chemical storage containers should be constructed to meet the requirements of the relevant Australian Standard. By choosing a chemical storage container that’s been designed and manufactured in full conformance with Australian Standards, you are providing the most effective and safe chemical storage solution for your business.

6. Dangerous Goods Signage

To reduce risk in the workplace, it’s essential that all stores have the appropriate Dangerous Goods signage. This is a mandatory requirement that’s detailed in the relevant Australian Standard for the Dangerous Goods that you’re storing.

Correct signage is important for many different reasons including:

  • Identifying the class of Dangerous Goods that is being stored
  • Alerting staff, supervisors and contractors to the hazards associated with the chemical
  • Assisting with correct chemical segregation

If your chemical drum storage facility does not display and maintain the correct Dangerous Goods signage, you won’t be complying with the standards and you could be putting your people at risk of fire, explosion or human harm.

7. Potential For Customisation

 Your chemical storage requirements should meet the exact needs of your business. And sometimes, this means that you may require a customised storage solution. Chemical drum storage containers may be customised by the manufacturer to include other features such as compliant decanting systems and emergency eyewash facilities. You may also find it useful to opt for other features such as customised shelving to suit your loading and stacking needs.

How Are You Storing Your Oil, Fuel and Chemical Drums?

To reduce the risk associated with storing drums of hazardous chemicals in the workplace, it’s vital that you choose a safe, compliant storage solution. We manufacture 16 different sizes of chemical drum storage containers which are constructed to meet all relevant Australian Standards. Features include natural ventilation, safety signage, a durable, cyclone proof construction and cambered roof for efficient rain runoff. If you’d like to find out more about reducing your chemical risk, why not access our guide? It contains helpful information about reducing risk and will help you choose and maintain the right chemical controls. Controlling Risks Associated With Hazardous Chemicals is completely free and yours to download today.

Controlling Risks Associated with Hazardous Chemicals

 

 

Walter Ingles

Walter Ingles Compliance Specialist

Walter is STOREMASTA’s Dangerous Goods Storage Specialist. He helps organisations reduce risk and improve efficiencies in the storage and management of dangerous goods and hazardous chemicals.

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