What is chemical storage?
Chemical substance properties can vary very widely and the risks posed to human health and to the environment can differ enormously. Therefore, it is necessary to take into account hazardous properties of different chemicals and to ensure storage safety by applying proper measures. It is the responsibility of the enterprise to ensure Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and other relevant documents are followed and to implement proper chemical storage accordingly.
Chemical storage concept represents an overview of all aspects of chemical storage.
- storage area requirements and maintenance,
- fire protection measures,
- labelling of chemical substances and storage facilities,
- chemical segregation by chemical group,
- specific chemical storage requirements,
- keeping necessary chemical information,
- chemical inventory and other necessary documents,
- worker training.
Furthermore, aspects such as transportation are also important.
Risks mainly arise, when chemical substances are released as a result of a leakage. When considering the large quantities of chemicals that are often kept together such an event in not unlikely.The effects of a chemical leakage may vary widely according to the type of a substance released.
It may include:
- environmental damage,
- human health damage including chronic effects and permanent damage,
- property damage,
- fire or explosion.
More details about specific chemical associated risks can be found at ECHA's website.
Proper storage of chemical substances is a key factor in maintaining worker health and environmental safety. Good knowledge of the chemical substances used and their properties is necessary to conduct good chemical storage practice. Hazards posed by chemical substances and occurrence of accidental events could be minimized if chemical storage rules are followed.
Furthermore, requirements for storage facilities are also important and should be followed.
There are some additional considerations for large scale storage.
Chemical labelling, SDS and other relevant documentation
All chemical materials should be properly labelled using GHS of chemical labelling (CLP - EC 1272/2008) in order to warn about hazards that chemical substances pose. Normally, manufacturer labels are sufficient. It is worth noting that additionally to CLP labels indicating hazards (examples) there is a labelling system used to indicate transportation requirements (examples). Classification and labelling of hazardous substances for transportation is also a part of GHS and it is laid out in the UN Recommendation on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.
From 2007, when REACH came into force, previously existing chemical storage acts were repealed. According to 31st article of REACH annex II, storage requirements are determined for each substance or mixture separately in 7th section of their safety data sheets (SDS) (precautions and safe handling), where recommendations for safe storage are listed. It includes all aspects of storage rooms and their facilities and safety precautions. If necessary, recommendations on how to manage risks related to: explosive atmospheres, corrosive conditions, flammability hazards, change of weather conditions and accidental release measure are listed. All of this information has to correspond to substance's physical and chemical properties listed in 9th section of SDS. SDS should kept at an accessible location in proximity to the storage room.
General requirements for storage of chemicals with specific properties
First of all, it is essential that proper labelling is in place and a proper segregation plan is made. Knowing exactly where and what chemicals are kept and knowing their expiry dates is essential in maintaining chemical safety. Orderly accounting is also a must in chemical management.
Chemicals with different hazard classes have different storage requirements. It is recommended to segregate chemicals with certain chemical properties from the others and some specific hazard characteristics need additional storage and safety considerations. Chemicals that are incompatible with each other pose risk of hazards, such as explosion, fire, formation of toxic fumes, etc., when accidentally combined and chemicals posing serious health risks should also be kept separately. For more information about storage requirements see Segregation of chemicals.
Applying proper chemical safety influences not only human, environmental safety or safety of the property and it also adds to an overall organizational benefit (saves time and allows better planning, therefore, saving costs). Taking the precautions can prevent serious disasters and therefore, loss of human life, but it is also important to know what to do and be prepared if such an event occurs.
Furthermore, phasing out or substituting hazardous substances is another way to strive for non-hazardous work-environment.
This text is just a summary of guidelines for chemical safety. It is not an official document. For the company use, please refer to official documents or national guidelines.
- SDS compilation guidelines
- More information on chemical storage in warehouses
- Storage of chemicals, guidelines for good practice
- EU-OSHA (European agency for safety and health at work) chemical storage guidelines