6 Tips For Preparing A Room To Be Safe For Chemical Storage
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There are several issues to be considered when preparing a room, shed, or store for chemical storage.
These issues include:
1. The types and classes of chemicals to be stored
You should read the Material safety data sheet(MSDS) for each chemical. The MSDS will be supplied by your chemical supplier and you are obliged to have these available for reference by staff. You should fix an MSDS holder to the wall in the chemical store for storing the MSDS for each chemical stored. The MSDS will provide details on the type of chemical(corrosive, toxic, flammable, Oxidizer, etc.,), it's composition, the hazards involved with its use, and recommendations on how it should be stored. If you have any queries, you should address them to your chemical supplier.
2. Segregation of non-compatible chemicals
Some chemicals react violently with other chemicals if they come into contact with each other. You might think that this is unlikely to occur as they are being stored in sealed containers, but it could happen if there is a leak or spillage from two non-compatible chemicals or in a fire. Again, reference should be made to the MSDS and questions directed to your chemical supplier. In some cases, the non-compatible chemicals will need to be stored a distance away from each other and maybe over separate bunds so that they do not come into contact with each other if they spill.
3. Spillage control / bunding
The chemical storage area will need to be bunded to contain any spilled chemicals and therefore reduce the risk of environmental pollution. The bund capacity should be either 110% of the capacity of your largest container or 25% of the total volume of chemicals to be stored in your chemical storage - whichever is the larger. So if you are storing 2 x 205-liter drums, your bund needs to be a minimum of 205 liters x 110% = 225.5 liters or if you are storing 32 x 205-liter drums, your bund needs to be 32 x 205 liters = 6560 liters x 25% = 1640 liters.
An emergency spillage response kit or spill kit should also be located in the chemical storage area to deal with any spillage which occurs outside the bunded area, e.g. during deliveries or transport of chemical containers in and out of the chemical storage area.
The Chemical store or room should be well ventilated to prevent an accumulation of harmful vapors This can be achieved by fitting louvered ventilation panels to the walls or by installing an electrical extractor. A minimum of 10 air changes per hour in the chemical storage area is recommended. If you are storing highly flammable liquids, the electrical extractor and indeed all electrical equipment in your chemical storage area will need to be Ex rated, so that it doesn't generate enough heat or doesn't generate a spark in operation which could ignite a flammable vapor.
5. Fire protection
If you are storing highly flammable chemicals, you need to consider the location of your chemical storage facility and whether it needs to be fire-rated or fire protected. The HSE guideline document HS(G)51 has a table that gives you a recommended minimum separation distance from occupied buildings, sources of ignition, etc., depending on the volume of highly flammable liquids you are storing. If you cannot achieve these separation distances, your chemical storage area needs to have fire protection, i.e. be constructed with walls that have minimum one-hour fire protection.
6. Personnel safety
A safety shower with eyewash should be fitted in your chemical storage area within easy access, should an operator get splashed with chemicals. Safety warning signage should be fitted outside the store and PPE equipment(safety goggles, gloves, etc.,) should be available.