Compliance with safety rules.
Safety is a paramount concern for any business. Not only do unsafe working conditions have the potential to negatively impact employees, but such conditions can be punishable by fines or criminal charges should authorities become aware of laws being broken.
Businesses naturally want to protect their workers, their customers, and the environment, but they also need to protect their own interests. Compliance with safety rules related to chemical storage is therefore essential for any business that produces, uses, stores, or disposes of hazardous chemicals.
In terms of storage, there are all kinds of safety rules to follow. How can a business remain in compliance with all of them? Here are a few suggestions.
Contact Governing Agencies
Groups like OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) are responsible for ensuring that standards are met for workplace safety, environmental concerns, and so on. They're not out to "get" companies that want to comply - in fact, they're available to help.
By contacting these agencies, you can get information about safety compliance, including industry-specific rules and regulations. You can also request extras like audits to help you determine areas where you can improve. Whether you need to become NFPA and FM compliant or everything checks out, having a professional eye on your enterprise will only help to ensure safety when handling and storing hazardous chemicals.
Review Federal and State Laws
It's important to understand that you may be subject to both federal and state laws concerning safe chemical storage. You must therefore review all laws that may affect you and continue to stay abreast of legal developments that could change standards, requiring additional effort to fully comply. It may be wise to retain a qualified and experienced lawyer to inform you of your legal obligations.
Understand the Chemicals You Store
Different chemicals could be hazardous in different ways and under different conditions. If you're storing and using myriad chemicals, you must understand how to store them all properly for optimal safety.
Some chemicals shouldn't be stored in close proximity to one another, for example, and you should never mix or store different chemicals within a single container unless approved for specific uses. Some chemicals need temperature, humidity, or other environmental controls to maintain stability. Knowing your obligations where specific chemicals are concerned helps to prevent accidents and ensure compliance with all applicable laws.
Hazardous chemicals should be labeled with instructions that detail proper storage requirements, such as a safe temperature range for combustible materials. Not only do you need to read and follow manufacturer labels, but there are also rules and regulations regarding any labels your business puts on chemicals, such as expiration dates.
Use Only Approved Containers, Cabinets, and More
Not every chemical storage container or cabinet has to be FM compliant, but items that bear the FM Approval seal are proven to meet set standards for safety. This means you don't have to worry about vetting the products before you rely on them to safely store your hazardous chemicals.
Temperature, Humidity, and Ventilation
Whether you're storing chemicals in cabinets, closets, or giant rooms in a warehouse, you have to comply with rules and regulations related to temperature, humidity, and ventilation controls. Such rules may vary by the size of the space, the chemicals being stored, and other factors. Regardless of your specific circumstances, you are responsible for compliance.
It doesn't really matter if you have sumps, containers, and FM compliant cabinets in place if your employees aren't trained in proper chemical storage procedures. If they make dangerous or costly mistakes, all the safety equipment in the world won't help.
Adopt a "Safety First" Attitude
The best way to ensure compliance when it comes to safe storage of hazardous chemicals is to adopt a "safety first" attitude. This means going out of your way to understand the rules and regulations to which your operation is beholden.
It also means making sure that the storage products you use are top quality and they meet all applicable safety standards. This might require you to implement training programs to keep workers informed of their duties concerning safety, as well as creating a system of penalties for failure to follow the rules, risking harm in the process.
Chemical storage can be fraught with dangers if you fail to create a safe work environment. However, when you understand your legal obligations and act accordingly to comply, you have the best opportunity to keep workers, clients, and your business safe.