Dangerous goods and chemical storage areas require careful monitoring and supervision to ensure they remain effective and safe. In this blog we’ll be presenting a list of essential items to include in a [weekly] inspection checklist. We recommend carrying out regular inspections on your chemical stores and have supporting procedures in place — so workers know how to respond to a safety breach and take immediate corrective actions.
Begin your inspection by checking the integrity of individual safety cabinets. Your checklist should include:
- Are there any signs of impact, structural, damage, dents, tears, rust, or corrosion that could make the cabinet unstable or dysfunctional?
- Is the cabinet level and not unbalanced in anyway?
- Is the cabinet loaded past its maximum capacity?
- Are chemical containers fully inside the cabinet (ie, not interfering with the door closing mechanism)?
- Are shelves structurally sound and properly support the chemical drums and containers?
- Are chemical containers in safe, stable stacks?
- Are toxic cabinets locked?
- Do cabinet doors close automatically and in sequence?
Individual chemical containers should be inspected to ensure they are not leaking or damaged in anyway. Checks should include:
- Are all chemical containers structurally intact and not leaking in any way?
- Are containers sealed, with lids or taps tightly in place?
- Do any containers show signs of corrosion or deterioration?
- Have containers been wiped down properly and have no chemical residues running down the side?
Incompatible materials and substances must not be stored in (or near) safety cabinets.
- Is the cabinet correct for the substance stored inside (eg, only flammable liquids in the flammable liquids cabinets)?
- Are mixed classes of Dangerous Goods being stored in the same cabinet?
- Are ignition sources inside the cabinet?
- Is the cabinet installed next to electrical appliances, light switches, and powerpoints?
- Are incompatible chemicals and substances placed near the cabinet?
- Are unnecessary items being stored in the cabinet (eg, rags, paintbrushes, PPE, cardboard cartons, and other combustibles).
- Are personal belongings, food, or drink being stored in (or around) the cabinet?
- Is the top of the cabinet being used to store files, documents, PPE and combustibles, or other chemicals?
- Are chemical deliveries/orders put away immediately and not left sitting next to the cabinet?
- Are there any excess chemicals sitting outside the safety cabinet due to insufficient storage space?
- Are pallets, boxes, vehicles or machinery blocking or impeding access to first aid equipment, safety showers or emergency eyewash?
Chemical containers should be marked in accordance with WHS Regulations and the Model Code of Practice Labelling of workplace hazardous chemicals. Your checklist should include:
- Do packaged containers have original labels in place?
- Are labels intact and fully legible?
- Do portable and decanting containers have compliant labels?
- Do small containers have sufficient labelling, or placed in properly labelled sample boxes (or similar)?
Placards and signage
To comply with Australian Safety Standards, chemical safety cabinets must display suitable warning signs. Include in your checklist:
- Does the cabinet display the appropriate Dangerous Goods label (eg, Class 3 Flammable Liquids and pictogram)?
- Are flammable cabinets displaying the NO SMOKING, NO IGNITION SOURCES sign?
- Does the cabinet clearly display the name and address of the cabinet manufacturer, or importer?
- Is the maximum capacity of the cabinet clearly marked?
- Are all placards and warning signs visible when the doors to the cabinet are closed?
- Is there sufficient lighting to illuminate warning signs and placards while the business is operational?
Register of Hazardous Chemicals
Having a Register of Hazardous Chemicals in place is a requirement of Australian WHS Regulations. Include as a minimum:
- Are all the chemicals in the cabinet contained on the master list?
- Is there a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for every chemical in the cabinet?
- Are any of the SDSs more than 5 years old?
- Are the documents in good condition and easy to read?
- Is the Register of Hazardous Chemicals easily accessible to anyone likely to be exposed to the chemicals?
Leaks and spills
You must have equipment and procedures in place to manage all possible chemical leaks and spills. Include as a minimum:
- Are spill compounds in the cabinets being used to store other items?
- Are spill trays in place?
- Have all leaks and spills been cleaned up and the spill sump cleared?
- Are sump plugs in place and creating a full seal?
- Are chemical spill kits on hand including PPE, and operational procedures?
Unwanted and out-of-date chemicals should be disposed of safely — have the following checks in place:
- Are any chemicals past their use-by date?
- Are empty chemical containers isolated and disposed of properly?
- Have unwanted chemicals been flagged for removal by a waste disposal company?
- Are waste chemicals being collected regularly?
Using chemical safety cabinets is an accepted and reliable chemical storage control, provided cabinets are manufactured to Australian Safety Standards. If you’d like more information about how safety cabinets can help you manage your Flammable and Combustible Liquids more efficiently, please download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. It’s an informative, easy read — and completely free. Download it today by clicking on the image below: