Unfortunately, no hard and fast rules exist for the best way to store hazardous chemicals in your warehouse. To determine the safest warehouse storage solution, you’ll need to consider the physical and chemical properties of the substance, as well as the health risks it poses.
Despite that, here are seven key things you should know if you store hazardous materials.
Some Substances Are Incompatible
Even though substances are kept separately, you must consider the interaction possibilities if there is a leak or spill. Understanding the properties of the chemicals, you’re holding is the only way to determine potentially incompatible substances.
Examples of substances that you should never store together include:
- Acids that produce chlorine gas.
- Cyanides (which generate hydrogen cyanide gas)
- Alkalis (which generate heat)
- Nitric acid and organic materials like alcohol
- Oxidizing agents and organic materials
If you need clarification on compatibility, check the Safety Data Sheet. If one isn’t available, contact your supplier immediately to request one.
The Storage Type Preference System Matters
The warehouse workers should store the hazardous chemical containers at a convenient height for handling. High shelving brings the risk of drops or spills.
You’ll also require to determine proper shelving for the volume of stored chemicals. Your storage shelves completely collapsing because of the unbearable weight of the containers is a nightmare for every warehousing service provider.
Proper labeling of Storage Containers
Safety signage is crucial, no matter what you’re storing or your storage system. Every chemical should be easy to identify through clear labeling. Storage areas should be appropriately labeled to inform that hazardous chemicals are inside.
Restrict the Access to the Storage Area
Only some employees need access to the chemical storage area.
Greater access means a greater risk of an incident, so it’s excellent to keep storage areas closed and restrict access to those who require it only to carry out their job functions.
Flammable Materials Require Additional Care
Minimizing the risk of fire, explosion, or spill is crucial when storing hazardous and flammable chemicals in your warehouse. To ensure safe warehouse storage solutions, keep these materials in closed containers and separate them from ignition sources and other harmful substances.
The storage area for flammable chemicals must be well-ventilated to ensure that vapors from leaks or spills are rapidly dispersed. It should also be fire-resistant and constructed from non-combustible materials.
Important – You Must Have a Containment System
Attention all hazardous chemical storage managers! Don’t take any risks with your containment systems! They are essential for preventing leaks or spills that could result in severe damage or injury.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that your containment system can hold at least 10% of the total volume of your containers or the volume of an enormous container (whichever is greater). And, of course, the materials used to construct your containment system must be compatible with the chemicals stored to prevent unwanted chemical reactions.
But that’s not all you need to consider! You may be subject to specific codes and regulations depending on how many hazardous materials you store. The International Building Code (IBC) specifies a (MAQ) maximum allowable quantity for dangerously flammable and combustible liquids based on their classification.
Knowing the code you must follow is crucial to ensure you’re compliant. The MAQ varies, ranging from 30 gallons for Class IA Flammable Liquid to 13,200 gallons for Class IIIB Combustible Liquid. Make sure to let a lack of knowledge put your employees, property, or community at risk. Stay informed and keep your containment systems up to code!
Smart Solutions: Optimal Warehouse Storage for Hazardous Materials Below the MAQ
However, if quantities exceed the MAQ, the hazardous materials pose a severe fire risk. Therefore, they must be stored in a building that meets H-occupancy requirements, providing better fire protection.
Assessments and Employee Training
More is needed to have suitable cabinets or containers when storing hazardous materials simply. To keep your workplace safe, you must conduct a proper risk assessment and provide adequate employee training.
Conducting risk assessments is critical for identifying hazardous materials and understanding their associated risks in your warehouse storage solutions. By performing these assessments, you and your employees can better comprehend how to handle these materials safely.
Proper training is crucial. Employees must be trained to handle hazardous substances. Employees should be able to perform visual inspections and identify early warning signs of potential issues. If they notice damaged racks or missing labels, they should remedy these issues immediately and report any damage to chemical containers.
Remember, storing hazardous materials is a serious responsibility. Pay attention to the importance of risk assessments and employee training. Proper steps can keep your workplace safe and prevent accidents or injuries.
While storing hazardous chemicals involves risks, you can manage them by taking basic precautions. You need to understand the materials you’re storing, why you need to store them, where you’ll store them, and what regulations apply.
If you take hazardous chemical storage thoughtfully, your workers will be serious about it too.
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