If your organisation uses hazardous substances, it is very important that you store and handle them in a safe and compliant manner. The safe storage of hazardous chemicals helps reduce the risk that they pose upon the people, property and the environment of your organisation.
Hazardous substances are chemical elements or compounds that have been obtained or generated from a process and have the potential to cause harm to people, property and the environment.
To ensure that you implement storage solutions that actually reduce the risk that hazardous substances have upon your workplace, it is very important that you follow the STOREMASTA methodology for managing the risks associated with hazardous chemicals.
The methodology for managing hazardous chemicals
The most effective way to manage the risks associated with hazardous chemicals is to follow the STOREMASTA methodology. This methodology has 4 phases: Identify, Assess, Control and Sustain.
This methodology allows you to identify the classification of hazardous chemicals you are storing, assess the risks associated with the hazardous chemical, implement appropriate controls to reduce the risk they have on the workplace and set up a system to sustain low risk and regulatory compliance in your workplace.
Before you consider implementing a hazardous substance storage solution, you must firstly identify the hazards associated with the substances you are seeking to store. This can be done by consulting the safety data sheet that comes with the hazardous substance. The safety data sheet provides you with information on the physical, chemical and hazardous properties associated with the substance. This is a very important part of the process because all chemical substances pose different hazards on the workplace and different hazards require different controls to reduce the risks they pose upon the workplace.
Once you have identified the hazards associated with the chemical substance that you are seeking to store, it is very important that you assess the risks associated with these chemicals. This can be done by carrying out a risk assessment. A risk assessment is a process in which you define the likelihood of an incident occurring and the severity of the incident. Once you have determined these two factors you can determine the magnitude of the risk.
Once you have carried out a risk assessment, you can then start to make an informed decision on how to control the risks. When controlling the risks associated with hazardous chemicals, you must follow the hierarchy of controls. The hierarchy of controls outlines the order in which you should implement the different controls to reduce the risks associated with hazardous chemicals. This order is
- Elimination: Discontinue the use of the hazardous chemical
- Substitution: Replace the hazardous chemical with a less hazardous substance
- Engineering Controls: Isolate people from the hazardous substance
- Administrative controls: Change the way people work
- PPE: Protect people with personal protective equipment
Elimination and substitution are the most effective way to reduce the risk associated with hazardous substances, however it isn’t always possible. In most cases, it is the hazardous properties associated with the chemical substance that makes them very effective in manufacturing processes.
When elimination and substitution cannot be implemented to totally remove the risk, engineering controls must be implemented. Engineering controls can include physical devices and processes such as:
- Mechanical ventilation systems
- Compliant chemical storage facilities
- Automated processes involving hazardous chemicals
One of the most effective methods to reduce the risk associated with hazardous substances is to store them in a compliant chemical storage facility.
A compliant chemical storage facility is an indoor safety cabinet or an outdoor chemical storage container that has been manufactured in full conformance to the Australian Dangerous Goods Standards. Each dangerous goods class has a corresponding Australian Standard that outlines the specific design requirements for facilities used to store that specific dangerous goods class. These standards have been developed because each class of dangerous goods pose different hazards upon the workplace and therefore different design and engineering controls are required for each class.
Therefore when you are seeking to store hazardous substances in a safe and compliant manner, you must follow the hierarchy of controls. If an engineering control is required, you must ensure that your chemical storage facility is manufactured in full conformance to the Australian Standards and is designed to store the specific class of dangerous goods that you are seeking to store.
Once you have controlled the risks associated with hazardous substances, it is very important that you develop a proactive system that will ensure that your workplace stays safe. It is excellent to mitigate the risks associated with hazardous chemicals, however if you fail to sustain your low level of risk and regulatory compliance, it can cost you a lot of money to get your workplace back to its previous state.
A proactive system could consist of a number of risks assessments scheduled into the future to ensure that any new risks are identified before they become a major problem. The frequency of these periodic risk assessments would depend on the nature of your business operations. It would be influenced by factors such as the quantity of hazardous chemicals used onsite and how frequently changes occur in your business operations.
As all hazardous chemicals pose different risks upon the workplace, it is very important that you apply the correct controls that will mitigate the risks associated with the specific hazardous chemicals that you are storing. This can be achieved by applying the methodology for managing the risk associated with hazardous chemicals. The application of this methodology will allow you to determine the storage solution that is required to effectively reduce the risks associated with hazardous chemicals in your workplace. 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.