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Guide on Managing the Risks of Storing Chemicals in the Workplace

November 2019

Safe Work Australia has prepared and published new resources for the storing of hazardous chemicals.

These resources expand on the information in managing risks of storing chemicals in the workplace and include tools that can be used to prepare hazardous chemical registers and site plans.

Hazardous chemicals are substances, mixtures and articles that can pose a health or physical hazard to humans. They may be solids, liquids or gases.

Even when not in use, chemicals can still pose a risk.

What is involved in managing risks?

You should manage the risks associated with storing hazardous chemicals by following a systematic process to:

  • Identify hazards
  • Assess risks
  • Eliminate risks
  • Control risks
  • Review and maintain control measures.

Storage Checklist

The following checklist sets out basic precautions that everyone who stores hazardous chemicals should take to keep their storage area safe. You can use this checklist to help you develop an inspection program for your storage area.

  • Eliminate unnecessary chemicals. You should safely dispose of unwanted chemicals and chemicals that are out of date.
  • Correctly dispose of empty containers. Old containers often contain residual chemical that can degrade, generate fumes or react with other chemicals added to the container.
  • Ensure all chemicals are clearly labelled. Clean and reattach labels as necessary and ensure any pipe work or plant that contains hazardous chemicals is identified through a label, sign or other measure.
  • Ensure your register of hazardous chemicals is up to date. Your register must include a list of the hazardous chemicals kept or used on site, as well as their current SDS.
  • Ensure your storage area is clean and organised. Make sure bunds are clear or spill trays are in place and clear. You should get rid of any unnecessary items in the storage area, like combustible materials (wood, rags etc.) that could be fuel for a fire.
  • Ensure incompatible chemicals are separated. You should also make sure incompatible chemicals do not share bunding or drainage systems. You can use signs to make it clear where chemicals should be stored. Liquids should not be stored above solids.
  • Inspect storage tanks and containers. Ensure that containers are sealed when not in use and that they are put away correctly. If any containers are leaking or show signs of corrosion make sure you repackage or dispose of the chemicals.
  • Remove any food or personal belongings from the chemical storage area. If food or personal belongings are contaminated they could make someone ill.
  • Remove or manage other sources of risk. Where possible remove ignition sources and machinery that could damage containers. Where necessary protect chemicals from sunlight.
  • Check storage systems. Some chemicals should be stored locked up or refrigerated; others need constant ventilation to ensure hazardous fumes do not build up. Ensure these systems are in place and operating correctly.
  • Check fire-fighting equipment. Make sure your firefighting equipment has been tested recently and is suitable for your chemicals. Where relevant, you should also ensure workers are trained in the use of the fire-fighting equipment.
  • Check spills kits. Ensure there is a suitable way to clean up any chemicals that spill. This includes making sure that workers know what to do if there is a spill or leak.
For more information go to:
https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/doc/managing-risks-storing-chemicals-workplace

Any questions? Please get in touch with our team.

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Topics: medicalpractice, WHS, Safe Work Australia

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