How Should You Be Storing Hazardous Materials

Answering Top Questions About Storing Hazardous Materials

It’s common sense to wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling hazardous materials, but storing these materials can be just as dangerous if not done correctly.

Proper precautions must be taken to ensure the safe storage of hazardous materials. However, the exact guidelines for proper storage vary based on the type of material being stored and its associated risks.

What’s Considered a Hazardous Material?

Hazardous materials are perpetually changing, and there are many different materials and substances which carry a risk of hazard, so there is no definitive list of what is considered a “hazardous material.” However, any material with a Safety Data Sheet is considered hazardous and should be stored accordingly.

Since there is no solidified list, and each hazardous material carries its own unique risks, there is no one-size-fits-all guide for storing hazardous materials. To determine how you should store each individual hazardous material, you must think about each material’s qualities—both physical and chemical—and the potential risks associated with these qualities.

How to Store Various Hazardous Materials

A few of the main things to consider are a material’s risk of contamination, fire, explosion, spills, routes of exposures, toxicity, sudden release of pressure, chemical reactions, and potential human and environmental health hazards. To determine reactivity and compatibility information for each hazardous material, check the Safety Data Sheet for every hazardous substance being stored.

Hazardous materials must be stored away from incompatible materials. Reactive chemicals should not be stored in close proximity, even if in separate containers, because of the potential for contact and reaction in the event of a spill. Keep in mind that flammable or combustible materials need to be stored away from any possible ignition source. Flammable materials should be stored in a well-ventilated area and in containers composed of fire-resistant and non-combustible materials, while hazardous chemicals should be stored at a convenient height to reduce the risk of spills. If they are stored on high shelves, the potential for spills is increased.

In addition to a substance’s physical and chemical properties, the volume of a hazardous material you are dealing with also impacts how you need to store it. Think about the amount of each material being stored. If the volume of material makes it too heavy, it could cause shelving to collapse, potentially resulting in a massive spill and reaction.

Beyond appropriately storing hazardous materials, you must also have a containment system in place. This keeps hazardous materials contained even in the event of a spill. Containment systems must also be made of compatible, nonreactive materials.

Finally, keep all hazardous material storage areas locked and only grant access to individuals who need to utilize the hazardous chemicals. Limiting the number of people who can access these materials reduces the risk of hazards.

Learn More About Hazardous Materials Storage and Disposal

Storing hazardous materials correctly is crucial for your business operations. For more information on how to properly and safely store hazardous materials, or for assistance with any of your environmental concerns, contact Vision Environmental today.