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Safe Chemical Manufacture & Storage

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 26 Feb 2018 | comments*Discuss
Chemical Storage Safety Manufacturing

There are many obvious and visibly noticeable signs of potential risks to health and safety as soon as you walk into a chemical manufacturing and storage company. In fact, the potential for danger and loss of life, not only for staff, but for residents living nearby, is so great and could result in such catastrophic injury and loss of life that it is an industry that is strictly regulated when it comes to health and safety issues.

Risk Assessment

There are so many things you’d need to consider in assessing the risk to health and safety. Not only will you need to consider the risks to production staff but also to maintenance and support staff. You will need to thoroughly determine what would be the likelihood of harm occurring to any of these groups of people who could be working in; chemical production, purification, handling and storage or working as a driver, on security, in catering facilities on site as well as administrative staff in the office.

In addition to having proper health and safety procedures in place for each of these varied job functions, you will also need to take into account health and safety implications towards the wider community as a whole. These would include any risks to the environment as a result of emissions into the air and spillages onto the ground which could have devastating consequences for water pollution and you’d also need to have an appropriate strategy towards the disposal of unused materials.

Chemical Storage

The storage of oil, chemicals and other hazardous materials are strictly governed. The company must check whether it’s subject to the Control of Major Accidents (COMAH) Regulations and, if you’re manufacturing any potentially hazardous chemicals, you would need to obtain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which gives detailed information on how chemicals should be stored, handled and disposed of and what to do in the event of an accident. The MSDS needs to be provided to companies to whom you are supplying chemicals to and from other companies who are supplying chemicals to you.

When storing any chemicals in large volume, it’s mandatory for you to have a secondary container, often called a ‘bund, in place into which any chemicals which may leak out of containers can be contained within this secondary tank in their entirety and with sufficient space left over.

It’s also crucial to store chemical tanks as far away as possible from drains and other areas of water into which chemicals could flow into and contaminate. Have leak detection systems installed and only permit authorised personnel into these storage areas so they should be kept securely locked unless being used and then only authorised staff should have access. Remember, even if pollution from your site has been caused by vandalism, you, as the company are liable.

Regular maintenance and testing for leaks must also be carried out and all containers should be clearly labelled with their contents identified. If pollution should occur, the company must have a comprehensive pollution incident response planning procedure in place and all of its staff must understand what that entails and what their specific responsibilities are.

For more information, you should contact DEFRA’s REACH department which aims to make manufacturers and chemical importers fully aware of the risks and management within the industry as a whole. REACH is an acronym meaning ‘Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals which is part of a wider EU legislation which came into force in June 2007.

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