If you’re new to the topic of dangerous goods and hazardous chemical storage, it can often be confusing trying to determine what type of stores you may need for your work areas. With a range of chemical storage options on the market — each constructed for different DG classes with specific maximum capacities — it’s understandable that choosing the right storage equipment can be an overwhelming task. So, to simplify things for you, we’re going to take a closer look at two key pieces of dangerous goods storage equipment: the chemical cabinet and the chemical storage container. We’ll be discussing the individual features of these products, their similarities — and the differences in their design and construction. We’ll also be detailing the correct ways to use these risk control measures to better protect your organisation from the hazards associated with dangerous goods storage.

What Is A Chemical Cabinet?

Whether you call them safety cabinets, Hazmat storage cabinets or dangerous goods cabinets, a chemical cabinet is designed and constructed to keep your hazardous chemicals safely stored indoors.

All chemical storage cabinets are designed in full conformance to the relevant Australian Standard. This means that cabinets are specifically made for the dedicated storage of:

IMPORTANT: When choosing chemical storage for your organisation, the first step is to determine the class of chemicals that you’ll be storing. Chemical cabinets are designed to minimise the risks associated with a particular DG class of chemical. You can refer to your Safety Data Sheet to determine the class of your individual chemical products.

Toxic chemical cabinet with tins of chemicalsChoose a chemical cabinet that suits the class of chemicals that you’re carrying and your capacity requirements. 

Chemical cabinets offer a range of controls to reduce risk when keeping dangerous goods in an indoor environment. A chemical cabinet manufactured in full conformance with the Australian Standards is deemed a compliant storage option. If a cabinet is not made to meet all the requirements of the Australian Standards, then it can’t provide the level of protection necessary to keep your business safe and compliant.

We’ll go into further details about these control measures a little later in the blog.

Capacity Of A Chemical Cabinet

Safety cabinets are available in an array of sizes with maximum chemical capacities ranging from 15 to 850 litres. Depending on the configuration of your workspace, you may opt for an under-bench model or a free-standing cabinet. There is also the option of single or double door configurations for cabinets.

Due to the limitations placed on the total capacity allowed for indoor storage in the Australian Standards, smaller quantities of dangerous goods are usually kept in chemical cabinets.

When considering the storage of larger quantities of hazardous substances, it’s usually a safer option to store these chemicals outdoors. Many organisations often opt for chemical storage containers, as they are more cost-effective than a custom-built outdoor chemical store.

What Is A Chemical Storage Container?

A chemical storage container, otherwise known as a dangerous goods container or HAZCHEM storage container, is a relocatable chemical store that’s made for the outdoor environment.

Outdoor chemical storage requires a range of controls to maintain safety and compliance. However, these controls are slightly different due to the demands and hazards associated with the outdoor storage of hazardous chemicals.

Chemical storage containers must meet all the requirements of the Australian Standards if they are to be recognised as compliant. The container’s construction mustbe specific to the class of chemical that is being stored.

Without each of these specific construction requirements, your chemical container won’t be able to provide sufficient chemical risk reduction for your organisation.

Containers are manufactured to house different classes of dangerous goods, including:

However, keep in mind that you must always refer to your Safety Data Sheet to determine if your dangerous goods are suitable for storage in the outdoor environment. Many types of chemicals are sensitive to heat or extreme temperatures and may be more suitable for indoor storage.

flammable liquids store in outdoor location

Compliant containers will reduce the risks associated with outdoor chemical storage of dangerous goods.

Capacity Of A Chemical Storage Container

Outdoor chemical storage containers are manufactured in a range of sizes from 80 litre models to suit smaller containers and drums to expansive IBC stores with maximum storage capacities up to 10,000 litres.

REMEMBER: When selecting a chemical storage container, you must consider the type of chemical package that you’ll be storing, whether that’s containers, drums or IBCs. Make sure the container is suitable for the volume of dangerous goods that you’re storing, as well as the size of your chemical packages.

What’s The Difference?

Put simply, while the chemical cabinet is the key storage solution for the indoor environment, the chemical storage container is the storage equipment required when keeping dangerous goods in the outdoor environment.

While there is no law prohibiting the use of a chemical cabinet outdoors, we recommend choosing an outdoor storage container when you require an outdoor store. The reason for this is that the additional features of the outdoor container make it more suitable for placement in an area where it will be subject to harsh environmental conditions.

The additional features of a chemical storage cabinet include:

  • Cyclone protection – Region C: this level of cyclone protection comes standard with compliant outdoor storage containers. Region C covers the majority of Australia and offers adequate protection against harsh winds and cyclonic conditions
  • Cambered roof – rain run-off: when your chemicals are stored in the outdoor environment, a key consideration is the longevity and durability of your storage container. If rain seeps into a cabinet, it can cause corrosion and deteriorate the strength and effectiveness of a cabinet. Therefore, chemical storage containers are made with cambered roofs to assist with rain run-off.
  • 2 walls of louvres – natural ventilation: when storing chemicals outdoors, your packages may be subject to fluctuating temperatures, hotter conditions and humidity. Chemical storage containers are equipped with a natural ventilation system which helps create a cooler, drier environment. It also assists with the dispersion of hazardous vapours.
  • ISO locking bars – high security: it’s a requirement of the Australian Standards that outdoor chemical storage be equipped with effective security measures. Compliant chemical storage containers are equipped with ISO locking bars which offer excellent protection against unauthorised entry.

IMPORTANT: While indoor chemical cabinets don’t require the same level of security as outdoor stores, compliant cabinets are still equipped with locking devices. STOREMASTA cabinets feature the patented SAFE-T-CLOSE® sequential closing system, which offers self-closing, close fitting doors latched at two points.

What Remains The Same?

Both indoor cabinets and outdoor containers share some similarities with design and construction features. Although they are made to suit different conditions, you will find that the similarities of these dangerous goods storage solutions include:

  • Liquid-tight spill containment sump: cabinets and outdoor stores both are equipped with spill containment systems to catch all leaks and spills.
  • Dangerous Goods and hazard signage: it’s a requirement of WHS Regulations and Australian Standards that all chemical storage areas feature the relevant DG diamond, as well as the appropriate hazard signage. Compliant cabinets and containers will come equipped with the correct safety signage.
  • Sheet steel construction: this durable, corrosion-resistant construction provides protection for the chemical packages.

DID YOU KNOW Chemical cabinets have a double-walled sheet steel construction and a thermal air barrier of 40mm between the walls to assist with temperature regulation and fire protection? Cabinets also feature perforated shelving to allow for the free flow of air throughout the cabinet, which helps prevent the build-up of vapours.

Choosing The Right Chemical Storage For Your Workspace

As we’ve highlighted in this blog, there are a range of controls built into compliant chemical cabinets and chemical storage containers that allow businesses to reduce the risks associated with dangerous goods storage. However, we suggest choosing a chemical cabinet if you’re storing your substances in an indoor environment, with chemical storage containers the best option for outdoor storage. Always look for dangerous goods storage equipment that is constructed in full conformance with Australian Standards. By choosing compliant equipment, you’ll be providing the highest levels of protection against chemical hazards.

Would you like to find out more about controlling chemical risk in your workplace? Then why not access our easy-to-read guide, Controlling Risks Associated With Hazardous Chemicals?  Our eBook will introduce you to our 4-step risk management methodology which can be immediately applied to your own workplace. This will assist with the identification of chemical hazards, as well as the selection, installation and maintenance of compliant controls. Grab your free copy of our guide today by clicking on the image below.

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