Storing and handling chemical products is never easy, there are a lot of elements to take into consideration. Not only to provide your employees with a safe working environment, but also to respect the legislation in force. This is why you have to do some type of research before storing a chemical product in your facility. You should never take any chances, it is necessary to have a total control of your stocks.
- Characteristics of chemical products
The key to safely storing chemical products is to be aware of the fact that not all chemical products can be kept together. Depending on their special features and classes, some may have to be stored in different places. To help you organize your stocks, you have to know that HAZMAT (Hazardous materials) are divided into nine classes: explosives, gases, flammable liquids, flammable solids, oxidizing agents, toxic and infectious substances, radioactive substances, corrosive substances and miscellaneous. Therefore, when storing your products you have to know which category the chemical belongs to, so that you will know how to proceed.
- Storage requirements
Moreover, not only some chemical can´t be stored together in order to prevent them from coming into contact, but some also have to be stored under specific conditions. The temperature, the ventilation of the place,… all these elements have a role to play. Fortunately, this information is generally provided on the labels of the chemical, which leads us to the next step.
It is important that the labels of your chemicals remain clear and legible. This way, the employees handling them will know how and where to store or transport these chemicals. Labels usually display the Risk and Safety Statements (R/S Statements) that provide clear and valuable information on how to deal with a certain chemical. The R-phrases indicate the dangers related to the use of a chemical; for instance the R14 statement refers to: “Reacts violently with water”, which shows us that it would be better to store this chemical away from any water source. The S-phrases are used to explain how to safely deal with this chemical; for example, the S38 phrase states that “In case of insufficient ventilation wear suitable respiratory equipment”. Taking some time to read and understand the labels is thus compulsory to ensure that the working place is safe.
- Smart storage management
Also, keep in mind that storing a product for too long in your warehouse could represent a risk in itself. Indeed, it could lead to the formation of unstable peroxides (which may result in an explosion), the container could deteriorate, enabling spills, and the substance could even decompose. In order to prevent this from happening, we advise you to reduce your stock to the minimum and to keep a clear up-to-date inventory of the chemicals you own. This will also allow you to know if a product is missing or has been misplaced.
- Safety measures
Of course, we couldn’t end this article without talking about safety measures. As obvious as it may seem, a lot of people tend to neglect them. Yet, the safety on your workplace often depends on whether or not you have properly trained your employees. You have to teach them how to react in case of emergency, and how to recognize the signs of an imminent danger (smell, smoke,…).
Also, insist on the fact that they should always wear their personal protective equipment (PPE ). Some chemicals could be dangerous if they were to come into contact with their skin (corrosive products for instance), so you need to make sure you own the appropriate protections.
These were a few advices that should help get a better understanding of the challenges related to the storage and handling of chemical products. Of course, they should not replace a specialist´s expertise. Moreover, if you are not sure whether or not your infrastructure could meet the requirements we mentioned above, it would be safer to hire the services of a company specialized in this field, such as Barnastock (http://www.barnastock.com/en) whose warehouses were designed to safely store chemical products.