By now, you will have read about the devastating explosion in Lebanon. Whilst the investigation is still ongoing into the causes of the incident, it is thought that inadequate chemical storage has played a role in the disaster.
This is probably, therefore, a good time to look at the way you are storing chemicals and ensure you are doing everything you should to prevent anything like this happening in your business.
So, let’s look at the basics.
Dedicated chemical store
All chemicals should be stored in a dedicated area and access to the chemical store should be restricted to authorised personnel only. The store should be well organised, well-lit and well ventilated with a chemical resistant floor that is easy to clean.
Incompatible materials should not be stored together, for example flammable substances should be stored in a separate area to oxidising chemicals. Areas for each type of substance should be designated with clear signage displayed.
Chemicals and containers should be stored in bunded areas to collect any spills. These should be sited away from vehicle routes, walkways and ignition sources, where possible.
The amount of chemicals stored should be minimised as much as possible and emergency procedures should be developed that are suitable for the chemicals and amounts stored.
Spill kits and suitable fire extinguishing equipment should be located nearby and there should be adequate arrangements for the removal of waste.
Regular checks should be made of the chemical stores to ensure they remain in good condition and that they are being kept clean and tidy.
Training and supervision
Safe work procedures should be in place for the storage and use of chemicals and all employees should have received training in these. Supervisors should be on hand to ensure these procedures are being followed.
Training provided should include:
- emergency procedures
- safe handling procedures
- good record keeping
- how to use RPE and check that it is working
- how to clean up spills correctly
- what to do if something goes wrong
If you would like any assistance with your chemical storage, please contact our Health and Safety Team on 01302 341 344.
By Rachel Cuff CMIOSH – Risk Consultant