Have you just bought a chemical cabinet and need it installed? Never fear! It’s not as complicated as you may think. While creating a chemically compliant workplace isn’t just a single-step process, there are key considerations that you can make that will allow you to safely install (or even re-install) your chemical cabinet. In this post, we’ll be going through the factors that will influence your placement and installation. We’ll also be detailing helpful tips to ensure that you can install a chemical storage cabinet in a smooth and stress-free way.
DON’T FORGET: Even if you’ve already installed your cabinet, but are intending on moving it, you must still follow the procedures and protocols to ensure that it’s re-installed in the right way. We recommend that only fully trained staff manage the installation, with a supervisor overseeing the entire installation or re-installation process.
What To Consider Before You Install Your Cabinet
There’s a few things that you might like to think about before you start your installation. We’ll go through each of these steps in detail below so you can get the positioning of the chemical cabinet right.
Choosing The Best Location
Where (and how) you install your safety cabinets is the first step on your journey towards achieving chemical compliance. So, make sure you get the location of your cabinet right.
We suggest you consider the following points when selecting a place for your chemical cabinet:
- Will the cabinet impede emergency services or evacuation efforts?
- Have you eliminated any hazards in the area, such as ignition sources or incompatible substances?
- Will the cabinet get in the way of staff, vehicle or other tasks?
- Is there any mezzanine level or open area located above the proposed installation spot?
- Is the cabinet easily accessible for the appropriate staff?
- Are there any security risks associated with the location that you’re looking at?
- Is there adequate ventilation in the area for the type and volume of chemicals that you’re storing?
- Will the site be flat, level and capable of holding the weight of the chemical cabinet?
- Does your storage equipment require eye wash stations or safety showers to be located nearby?
- Are there specific requirements that relate to your cabinet that may affect the installation location?
REMEMBER: To learn more about the requirements that apply to the installation of safety cabinets, refer to the appropriate Australian Standard for the class of chemicals that you’ll be storing. Larger cabinets, such as those over 250 litres in capacity, are often subject to further requirements relating to their installation location.
Preparing The Site
Once you’ve selected the best site for your cabinet, you can prepare the area for the installation.
- Make sure that unathorised staff don’t continue to walk through or work in the area where the cabinet will be installed.
- Remove any rubbish, combustibles or other items from the area
- Clean down the floor before you install the cabinet
- Check that you have added the chemicals to your Manifest or Register of Hazardous Chemicals
- Have in place operating procedures for the cabinet, so that staff will be trained on how to use and maintain it properly
- Ensure that adequate signage is placed in the area to alert staff to the chemical hazards that will be present
There are many factors to consider when choosing a site for your cabinets, including making sure it's ready for the installation.
What To Do When Installing Your Chemical Cabinet
The next stage of the installation process involves the placement, installation, inspection and usage of the cabinet. Try not to rush through these essential steps as it’s important to make sure that your cabinet is functioning exactly as it is meant to do. This will provide your workplace with the best protection against chemical hazards.
It’s now time to retrieve your cabinet from the delivery or storage area. We suggest transferring the cabinet with the packaging on, to avoid any unnecessary damage during the moving process. If possible, utilise a trolley or stair lifter to assist in the prevention of manual handling incidents.
Once in place, you can carefully unwrap the cabinet and remove it from the wooden pallet.
The cabinet will already be equipped with footing that allows it to be put in place on the flat, even surface with little to no fuss.
Cabinets come equipped with perforated steel shelving which are fully adjustable. If you want to configure the shelving to suit your needs, simply lift up the shelf from the lug on the cabinet wall and place the lugs in the preferred position. You’ll then be able to place your shelves on these four lugs — and provide a secure shelf to store your chemical packages.
Also, we suggest that you take the time to ensure the cabinet is level for optimal closing speed and latching of the automatic doors. You can easily adjust the closing speed to suit the needs of your operation, by simply accessing the adjustment screw on the hydraulic door closer itself.
REMEMBER: Once you’ve unwrapped your cabinet, it’s a good time to scan the QR code on the wrapping to register your warranty with STOREMASTA. Our products come with a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty.
We suggest inspecting your cabinet once it’s been put firmly in place. This is for a range of reasons including:
- Checking that the cabinet has not suffered damage during the moving or installation process and it retains its structural integrity
- Understanding the features of the cabinet and how they work, such as the spill containment sump and moveable shelving
- Inspecting the doors to ensure that they are closing tightly and in sequence
- Ensuring vent ports remain tightly closed unless a mechanical ventilation system is installed
- Making sure that all dangerous goods and hazard signage is in place
REMEMBER: If you find that the self-closing doors aren’t closing and latching in the correct manner, you can slightly lift the corner of the cabinet (and pack the space underneath) to provide a completely even surface for the cabinet to sit on.
Attaching The SDS Folder
Under WHS Legislation, Australian workplaces are obliged to have the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical freely available to staff and emergency services that may attend the site. You can obtain an SDS from your chemical supplier.
Once your cabinet has been installed, it’s important that the placement of the SDS is your next consideration. An easy way to make sure that your SDS is protected and readily available is by enclosing it in a dedicated document folder that’s attached to your cabinet.
We suggest storing your SDS in a dedicated folder that's contained within a sturdy document holder attached to your chemical cabinet.
This allows your staff to quickly gain information about the stored chemicals and will limit any confusion in the event of an emergency.
Filling The Cabinet
Now for the fun part — it’s time for your team to actually start using the cabinet.
Consider these points when setting up and maintaining your safety cabinet:
- Make sure that you only store the correct chemical class in the cabinet
- Remove any packaging from your chemicals before placing them neatly on the shelves
- Consider how the chemical package sits in the cabinet; use the adjustable shelves to create the right layout for your operations
- Ensure that packages are placed correctly on the shelves and do not obstruct the door closing mechanisms of the cabinet
- Keep drums stacked a maximum of two high to limit the likelihood of them falling over
- Only store chemical containers that have secure lids in place
- Make sure that all chemical packages are wiped clean of residue before they’re placed in the cabinet
Your Legal Obligations With Chemical Storage Cabinet Installations
As a key piece of equipment to assist with chemical hazard control, chemical cabinets must be installed correctly to be effective, safe and compliant.
In fact, Section 37 of the Model WHS Regulations 2021 states that your hazard controls must be installed and setup in the correct way. This means that you’re legally obliged to make sure that your installation process is spot on. Otherwise, your chemical cabinet won’t provide the level of protection that it was designed to provide — and your organisation could be at risk of non-compliance.
You can purchase the most innovative, high quality chemical cabinet on the market — but if you don’t follow through with a sensible installation and setup, you will not be able to adequately reduce chemical risk for your workplace.
Need Some Further Guidance?
If you’ve purchased a cabinet, or you’re thinking about relocating one, there’s a right way to do it and a non-compliant, unsafe way to go about the installation. We hope this post has given you some valuable insight into the key factors that you should consider when you install a chemical storage cabinet.
Keep in mind, that the usage and maintenance of your cabinet is also important for maintaining chemical compliance. If your control measure isn’t being used in the manner to which it was designed to be, you may be reducing the effectiveness of your cabinet. If you’d like to learn more about this issue, we have an eBook that can help. Monitoring And Reviewing Control Measures For Hazardous Chemicals will assist you in understanding how to maintain and inspect your chemical cabinets. Get your own copy of our guide for free now.