Common Chemical Storage Hazards You Might Be Forgetting About.
Whether you run a manufacturing plant or you simply store hazardous chemicals as part of your operation, you are no doubt aware of many potential risks associated with chemical storage. For example, you probably recognize that leaks are a major risk factor and as a result you utilize appropriate containment shelving and platforms.
You may also see the potential hazards that can occur when moving barrels or other containers from place to place. Of course, any operation that deals with hazardous chemicals takes pains to ensure the safety of employees with proper gear and policies and procedures designed to protect them.
That said, there could be a wide variety of potential problems that aren't exactly covered by OSHA guidelines, leaving you to determine possible threats on your own. The good news is that you certainly aren't the first business to come up against this problem.
If you're wondering what more you can do to prepare for potential risks associated with storing hazardous chemicals, turn to the advice of those that have gone before. Here are a few common chemical storage hazards you might not be aware of or you may have forgotten over time.
Emergency Response Preparedness
In order to comply with OSHA guidelines, you'll have to have certain emergency response measures in place when storing and dealing with hazardous chemicals. This could include products, policies, and procedures designed to ensure the safety of your facility and your employees in case of emergency situations.
Preparing for emergency requires more than just having the proper pieces in place - your employees also have to understand how to react in an appropriate and timely manner. The tools are only as good as the people using them, so to speak.
For this reason, your emergency response preparations should include proper training with exercises designed to gauge how your employees will react during an emergency. Schools run fire drills to make sure students know how to react when the fire alarm goes off and some public emergency responders participate in disaster drills to get an idea of what they'll face in a real emergency scenario.
You can do more to protect your facility and employees from harm in the event of an emergency situation involving hazardous chemicals by hosting exercises designed to test employee knowledge of proper safety procedures during an emergency. This will help to ensure preparedness and proper response during a real emergency.
Loading and Unloading
You probably know that transporting hazardous chemicals is dangerous, but you may need to exercise even more care during the loading and unloading process. Whether you're taking barrels off a truck and moving them to containment shelving or vice versa, the inherent danger of a mishap goes up as soon as containers are away from safe storage platforms or cabinets.
At least chemicals are not in close proximity to workers are stored in lockers when placed on platforms or secured in trucks for transport. When employees have to hoist and maneuver containers full of toxic chemicals, however, the risk factors definitely go up.
You should therefore encourage special care when it comes to inspecting seals, checking for leaks, and cleaning containers prior to loading and unloading. Don't forget to go over proper handling processes to ensure the least amount of risk during loading and unloading of chemicals.
Policies and Procedures Review
Every company that deals with storing hazardous chemicals has standard operating procedures related to safe handling. These were likely put into place long before the first container ever crossed the threshold.
You can't afford to rest on your laurels when it comes to the safety of employees and the security of your facility. With experience comes knowledge and you've probably learned a lot about the ins and outs of safely storing and dealing with hazardous chemicals over time.
These lessons may enhance or in some cases negate your policies and procedures when it comes to safely handling chemicals. It is therefore in your best interest to review policies and procedures periodically.
This could not only help to reduce risk and bolster safety in your operations, but it could also improve the efficiency with which your operation is run. If your standard operating procedures are out of date, it's time to reevaluate and adjust as needed.