Difference in Regulations for Occupancy V. Non-Occupancy Buildings
The regulations for occupancy buildings are very different from those of non-occupancy buildings. The most obvious difference is that occupancy buildings are intended for the pumping and mixing of hazardous materials, whereas non-occupancy buildings are intended purely for the storage of these materials. In addition, the types of materials that can be stored in the two different types of buildings varies quite a bit.
For example, if you are storing hazardous chemicals or materials, there will be different restrictions that pertain to occupancy and non-occupancy buildings in regard to pH, flammability, chemical temperature and the allowed quantity of the materials you wish to store. These are very sensitive and important chemical storage matters that should not in any way be taken lightly. They are matters of public and environmental safety that could result in tragic consequences if not respected with full compliance.
If you are unsure of how these codes may affect you, here is the difference in regulations for occupancy and non-occupancy buildings.
An occupancy building is intended for lower volumes of chemical storage. It is a place where chemicals, like flammable liquids, paints, resins and the like, can be dispensed, mixed, processed and pumped securely in isolation from the rest of the chemical storage facility, including its employees.
Facilities such as these carry risk just in storing hazardous chemicals, but the greatest risks are presented when these chemicals are being processed in any way, which is why it's so important that these actions are conducted in a completely controlled environment. The personnel who handle these substances must be highly trained and aware of the risks that each individual chemical carries so that their behavior can be adjusted accordingly.
A non-occupancy building is intended for storing higher volumes of chemicals. However, these chemicals should not be handled in any way other than the act of moving them from one place to the other. Depending on the level of risk inherent in the chemicals being stored, these buildings are constructed with either single or double sided access. There can be up to 12 bays of storage space, stacked on individual pallets as high as three tiers at the most. All drums should be stored on pallets that are accessible by forklift so that there is no risk of exposing personnel to chemicals or their fumes.
Additionally, all drums must remain tightly sealed at all times while in a non-occupancy building, and the facility must remain tidy and organized at all times. There should be no debris or obstacles of any kind impeding the pathway of forklifts.
In some cases, the materials housed in both occupancy and non-occupancy buildings will require extra protection due to their hazardous or sensitive nature. These substances require special lockers that are intended to maintain temperature, provide explosion relief, detect leaks, monitor gas/air flow, regulate ventilation, and provide protection in the event of flooding or fire.
These highly advanced modular storage systems are necessary when it comes to some of the most toxic and sometimes even radioactive materials that can be found. If you are dealing with these types of materials in your facility, then you cannot afford to cut any corners when it comes to protecting your company, your employees, and most importantly, your community. There are state and federal laws that you need to comply with and they will come up at some point during your next building inspection.
Lastly, you want to make sure that you know exactly which agencies you need to comply with, because there's more than a few. There is a long list, which means you will need to do your research in accordance with the materials that you are storing.
Depending on which chemicals you work with at your business, you could fall under the jurisdiction of the National Fire Protection Association, International Building Code, Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Factory Mutual Research, and the State Approval Departments. Each of these agencies will assess a different aspect of your site and its protocols, so make sure that you conduct your due diligence and research every one of them. You want to be sure that you are complying with each and every regulation and guideline in accordance with the size of your facility, the materials you store, and the number of people you employ.