Safe storing of chemicals and hazardous materials
A place of business need not manufacture chemicals in order to require chemical storage. For example, any building with fire extinguishers — and that means virtually any building — is a storage site for chemicals. Most workplaces also have a variety of cleaning chemicals on hand, and these, too, need to be stored properly.
Of course, there are some companies that have much larger requirements for chemical storage.
Regardless of the amount or type of chemicals in a home or workplace, proper storage is essential for safety. There are a number of chemical storage systems available, including those designed specifically for hazardous chemicals or waste.
Chemical Storage Systems
A typical chemical storage system relies on chemical storage cabinets, which are usually housed in your existing structure. Another storage option is chemical storage buildings, which are separate structures and are great for the storage of larger quantities of materials, as well as for storing hazardous or volatile chemicals.
Top-notch construction is vital to chemical storage cabinets and buildings. Many are constructed with a double wall so that if the inner wall of the storage module fails for any reason, the outer wall provides backup security.
Fireproofing is also important, since many chemicals react to heat. Again, double-wall construction can help. The inch or two of space between the two walls can contain the heat and keep the fire from spreading. Of course, it is also necessary that the unit be made of a fireproof material, like steel.
Finally, placement of the chemical storage system must be carefully considered. Cabinets can sit on countertops or under them, be mounted to walls or stand on their own. In any case, they must be steady and secure so that they won't tip over.
Obviously, placement near boilers or other sources of heat is not recommended. Chemical storage cabinets should also be kept away from the building's ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Chemical storage buildings present fewer problems since they are stand-alone structures, but consideration must still be given to placement to ensure that optimal conditions are present and safety is a priority. For example, these buildings should not be erected near groundwater or power supplies.
Hazardous Chemical Storage
Substances as common as paint, antifreeze and pesticides are actually hazardous materials and need to be stored and disposed of accordingly. Hazardous materials should be stored in a cabinet or building designed specifically for hazardous chemical storage. Often, these units have greater safety features and more stringent construction and placement guidelines to ensure proper containment. Make sure these units are clearly marked to indicate the hazardous nature of their contents.
The government regulates and enforces hazardous waste storage and disposal, and the laws may vary depending on location, industry and type of material. In general, though, these laws limit the quantity of a material that may be stored and the length of time it may be stored for. There are also guidelines for the size and construction of storage containers, the placement of storage facilities and the handling of hazardous materials, as well as other safety regulations to protect both people and the environment.
There are numerous agencies that enact and enforce chemical storage safety protocols. These include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA). Check with these and similar organizations for specific guidelines, changes and updates to guidelines or further information.
Written by Michael Thompson