How to Maintain a Safe Worksite When Handling Hazardous Materials.
There is nothing more important than safety when it comes to maintaining a storage facility for hazardous materials. If you are not complying with all of the codes and regulations that are sanctioned for your facility, then you could be putting your entire staff as well as your community at risk.
If managed properly, your facility could remain inert for decades, however, if you are not careful, your facility could be a ticking time bomb. Here is how to maintain a safe worksite when handling hazardous materials.
Keep Drums Clean and Tightly Sealed
Over time, your drums, and particularly your drum lids, can start to get dirty and succumb to wear and tear. If this is the case, then you have a serious safety hazard on your hands. Noxious fumes can leak from drums that are not properly sealed, and even from minor drips that are left on the drums themselves.
That's why you want to replace old drum lids when necessary and make sure that your drums are properly cleaned before putting them back in storage. Failing to make sure this is done each and every time you move a drum from an occupational building to a non-occupational building can spell disaster.
Keep Aisles Clear
When you have forklifts driving in and out of aisles full of hazardous materials, you need to be sure that these aisles are completely clear of debris and any other kind of obstacles. You may need to keep at least one person on duty at all times who is responsible for making sure that all of the aisles are kept clear, just to be sure that there aren't ever any accidents.
This may not be completely fool-proof, but in the event that an accident does happen, there will be somebody to hold liable for the incident, and it won't be you. In the end, these precautions are just as much about protecting others as they are you and your business.
Stack Drums Neatly on Individual Pallets
One of the most important rules of hazardous materials storage is that all drums need to be stacked neatly on their own individual pallets. Your employees should never have to handle these drums with their hands, especially not when they are stacked two or three tiers high. Stacking a drum between two different pallets could put your entire facility at risk, and it is a very easy problem to prevent.
At the beginning and end of each day, there should be someone on duty who is responsible for making sure that each and every drum has its own pallet. You should also have a good reserve of extra pallets just in case since you never know when one may crack or break. To ensure pallet integrity, you’ll want to be sure that you are replacing them relatively frequently. You can think of your pallets just like you do your lids - every drum needs one, and from time to time they're going to need to be replaced.
Use Modular Storage Systems when Necessary
If you are storing some particularly sensitive, hazardous materials, then you are going to need to keep them separated from the rest of your storage facility. These are the types of chemicals and materials that need their own lockers, and in order to truly keep these types of substances safe, you're going to want to go with a modular storage system.
Modular storage systems are lockers that hold smaller quantities of hazardous chemicals in a completely controlled environment that regulates temperature, ventilation, detects leaks, protects from fires and flooding, and so much more. If you are not sure whether or not you are storing any hazardous materials that require this kind of precaution, be sure to research all of the codes and regulations in your region so that you are ready for your next inspection.
Maintain Labels and Organization
There's nothing more important when you are maintaining a safe worksite that stores hazardous materials than the need for strict organization and clear labels. The labels on your drums may start to peel or tear off over time, and it's everyone's responsibility to make sure those labels are clean, complete and legible.
Not only that, but your drums need to always be stored with those labels facing out. It may seem obvious that a particular drum would be filled with acetone if it is stored next to twenty other drums that are labeled "acetone", however, you never want to take any chances.