One of the biggest challenges in workplace safety is the proper storage, handling, and shipping of hazardous materials. Flammable liquids can ignite, causing untold damage and injury to nearby personnel. Toxic chemicals might leak, necessitating expensive clean-up operations and halting all work.
There are plenty of horror stories of the damages caused by improper storage. But when substitution of these hazardous materials isn’t possible, you simply have to do everything possible to minimise the risks. What can you do?
First Measure: Containment
All industrial tanks used by your workplace must have been manufactured in accordance with international quality standards. Fail-safe features such as double walling are also highly recommended. There should be means to control spillages, preventing them from reaching other areas of the workplace.
Second Measure: Segregation
Whenever appropriate, keep tanks at a good distance away from working sites and personnel. This not only serves to minimise the damage in case of containment failure, it also reduces the risk of an unrelated accident (like a fire) reaching the tanks and setting off a domino effect.
Third Measure: Ventilation
Should a leak or spill occur, proper ventilation can help prevent fumes from spreading across the facility. Keep tanks in open air locations, or invest in a strong HVAC system to filter air. Avoid any obstacles that would keep fumes in places, such as blocked vents.
Fourth Measure: Control
Lastly, implement guidelines to minimise potential ignition sources, or appropriately distance them from the containment areas. Ignitions often occur because of oversights like unprotected electrical equipment, naked flames, and smoking.
The place where such materials are contained must also be classified as a hazardous area. Be sure that it is covered in warning signs, and that access is restricted to employees who have undergone appropriate training. Disaster prevention is always a matter of preparedness.