A quick guide to determining the need for bunding and secondary containment  

Oct 7, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

If you carry any type of Class 3 Flammable Liquids at your job site, you must be able to fully contain any chemical leaks and spills, as well as the resulting effluent.  In today’s blog we’ll be discussing the importance of bunding and secondary containment equipment to protect your workplace (and the environment) from hazardous chemical spillage. 

“Where there is a risk from a spill or leak of a hazardous chemical, provision must be made for a spill containment system that contains any part of the hazardous chemical that spills or leaks — and any resulting effluent.” 357 Containing and managing spills, Model WHS Regulations.  

1. Determine the level of risk

Before making purchasing decisions about bunding and other secondary containment products for your flammable liquids, it is extremely important to determine the level of risk created by the chemicals. 

To make sure the equipment you choose is suited to the physical properties of the substance — and can cope with the handling quantities, climate and duration of the load — we always recommend carrying out a detailed risk assessment. You should consider the following factors: 

Health hazards — what health risks would a chemical spill pose to workers? This includes chemicals burns to the skin and eyes, as well as what would happen if the spilled chemicals were ingested, inhaled or swallowed.

Physical hazards — what is the flashpoint of the chemicals, and how likely are they to ignite or explode during an uncontrolled leak or spill?

Chemical properties — are the chemicals corrosive or reactive? Could the chemicals attack or quickly corrode bunding construction materials? 

Environmental hazards — are the chemicals toxic to the environment? What is the minimum quantity required to contaminate groundwater or pastoral lands? Is the job site located near the ocean, waterways, drains, forestry, or residential areas? 

Chemical quantities — what quantities are you carrying and what are the concentration levels? Your level of risk is much different for a jerrycan of mower fuel vs a bulk tank of unleaded petrol. 

Temporary storage — if there are temporary storage areas for flammable liquids, how long will they be kept there? 

Site vulnerability — is the job site vulnerable to storms, flooding, heat, traffic or offsite risks on adjacent properties? Does the workplace carry explosives or other Dangerous Goods? 

Containers — what type of chemical containers are being used and how vulnerable are they to cracking, impact, deterioration, overfilling or collapse? 


2. Assess chemical handling and storage areas

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommend that the requirement for bunding and secondary containment should be determined on a site-by-site basis. We recommend factoring the following areas into your risk assessment: 

  • Drum storage areas 
  • Chemical decanting stations 
  • Equipment used to transfer stored liquids (eg, drum trolleys) 
  • Locations where chemical spills commonly occur — eg, maintenance workshops, laboratories, production areas, wash bays, loading docks, warehouses, engine rooms. 

IMPORTANT: When calculating the capacity for flammable liquids bunding you should also consider the impact of water and liquids produced by firefighting equipment.  


3. Consider bunding solutions

Of course, there are literally thousands of bunding and secondary containment products available for Class 3 Flammable Liquids, here are a few of the most popular. 

IBC bunds 

Australian-made bunding products are available for standard Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) as follows:

  • Spill funnel — attaches to the opening of the IBC to allow spill-free decanting into the IBC. The spill funnel also has a debris strainer. 
  • IBC bund - sits under a single IBC allowing it to be used as a decanting station and capable of holding the entire contents of the IBC.  
  • Dispensing tray - attaches snugly to the IBC bund and sits under the tap to catch any overfill or splashing while decanting. 

Drum handling 

Bunding products can be attached to individual chemical and fuel drums to minimised spillage during decanting, handling and location transfer. Options include: 

  • Drum dolly - move chemical drums around the worksite on a swivel-wheeled drum dolly. The base also acts as a spill bund. 
  • Drum caddy - secure the drum to the wheeled caddy with in-built ratchet straps — the drum can then be manoeuvred to any angle for decanting or injury-free transfer. 
  • Spill funnel lid - fitted over a chemical drum to prevent overfilling and spillage while decanting. The lid also has a debris strainer. 
  • Full cover lid - a close-fitting lid that covers the full circumference of a 205 litre drum.  

IMPORTANT: bunding products can also be fitted to single pallets or as part of a bunded racking system. 


4. Minimise the risk of spills

To support your bunding and secondary containment systems — and minimise the risk of chemical leaks and spills — we recommend undertaking the following tasks on a regular basis: 

  • Checking chemical containers for cracks and other damage that can start to leak. 
  • Regularly inspecting machinery — especially pumps, valves, pipes and hoses. 
  • Clearing the spill sump in chemical cabinets and outdoors stores immediately after a spill. 
  • Keeping only minimum quantities of flammable liquids onsite. 
  • Implementing consistent housekeeping practices to reduce clutter, and ensure all chemical containers have the lids in place. 

Next steps 

Flammable liquids safety cabinets that have been manufactured to Australian Standard AS1940:2017 –- The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids offer liquid tight secondary containment and significantly reduce the risk of an uncontrolled chemical spill. For more information about how to reduce your flammable liquids compliance risk, please download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. Take the next step in flammable liquids compliance. 

Essential Considerations when Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors download Free eBook

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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