The storage of corrosive materials is a highly controlled and regulated process, and for good reason. Corrosive material can eat through containers, cause serious damage, potentially explode, and also cause bodily injury if people accidentally come into contact with them. Your warehouse has to be designed to properly store corrosive materials and your staff need to be properly trained as well. Read on for some important things that you need to keep in mind when storing corrosive chemicals.
One of the most often overlooked aspect of storing corrosive chemicals is making sure all of the people you have on staff are trained. Errors in dealing with, moving, or using the chemicals is one of the most common causes of issues. Even if you have people who may never use the corrosive materials, they should still be trained on the basics of storage if they work near them (so they don’t potentially move or change something accidentally).
The spaces where they are stored need to also have very visible signage for anyone who is not trained. Make sure that the signage both identifies the potential hazards of the materials and alerts people to know they aren’t to touch them unless they’ve been authorized to do so.
You also have to make sure that the spaces you use for storing the materials is constructed correctly. The storage areas usually have regulations concerning their ventilation, how they are accessed (usually by ramp, not steps), and the sprinkler and fireproofing of the area. It is not as simple as having these potentially dangerous materials behind a locked door, so make sure that the space you’re using meets standards.
Speaking of standards, there are many issues of compliance that can come up with storage of corrosive materials. Specifically, OSHA has a whole battery of regulations surrounding corrosive materials and their storage. Some of the key compliance standards are PELs (permissible exposure limits) and HCS (hazard communication standards). Permissible exposure refers to how much your employees are allowed by law to come into contact with the material and what sorts of PPE are needed to do so. Some states, like California, set additional limits that are more restrictive than federal limits. You can not require or allow people to have more exposure than the PEL for a material. Hazard communication is the requirement to identify the chemicals or materials and explicitly state what the hazards or risks are. This should be very visible, as described above. Finally, you also have to consider hazmat compliance in all this – specifically you need to be keeping good records of the materials and how they are stored, accessed, transported, and disposed of.
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