Chemicals, both liquid and gas, are some of the most essential raw materials in the world. They are an important component in many industries, such as manufacturing and transportation, for processes such as producing everyday products — from shampoos to industrial cleaners.
But some types are also volatile and dangerous, and incidents could lead to massive destruction as well as health and safety hazards. Moreover, it is quite difficult and also not really a necessity to eliminate the use of chemicals entirely. As such, proper use and storage should always be a priority.
Every private business knows this, as the risks of damage are too high. What do the official rules and regulations say about it, though?
How Companies Store Chemicals
Proper chemical storage is a must due to the harm it can cause. Take, for example, the Texas City disaster in 1947. A cargo vessel called SS Grandcamp exploded when its massive amount of ammonium nitrate detonated. Worse, it also carried ammunition, which triggered more fires and explosions.
In the end, more than 550 people died. It eventually became one of the biggest industrial-related disasters in US history. Guidelines can vary among manufacturers. They consider various factors such as environmental conditions, shelf life, toxicity, and volatility.
Some chemicals may react more quickly in the presence of other substances, for example. The type of risks they pose can also differ. Most of these substances are in designated places and inside barrels or drums. These can prevent spillage and leakage, as well as humans’ accidental exposure to them.
But even in proper containers, they can still be hazardous when it doesn’t achieve its right environment. In addition, incidents such as spillage, contamination or combustion could cause huge damages.
Manufacturers, therefore, also need to invest in equipment and tool that can create the ideal condition for the chemicals to remain stable. These can include drum heaters, which can also extend the product’s shelf life. In the process, the company can minimize its wastage as well as hazards caused by spoilage or contamination.
Governments and non-government organizations regulate the use of chemicals as needed for safety purposes. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for instance, provides the most widely used set of standards that can be the basis in creating storage and handling procedures.
Here is an overview:
- The manufacturers, importers, and distributors must give safety data sheets to the others who will handle the chemicals. These can include consumers or users. This document provides information on the hazards of the substance and how to handle it properly.
- Companies that deal with chemicals must have emergency response and accidental-release plans in place.
- Even though the area stores chemicals, it must remain safe to use by the workers.
It’s impossible (and unnecessary) to totally remove the need to use as well as store chemicals globally. However, with proper handling and storage, everyone can significantly reduce or even eliminate the negative impacts of chemical hazards to workplace safety, public health and the environment.