One of the most critical responsibilities for Plant Supervisors and Safety Managers is the storing of dangerous chemicals safely and legally. Unfortunately, keeping chemicals locked hidden away is not practical when these substances are needed continuously during work processes and production. Enter the Indispensable Hazmat Station.
Hazmat Stations allow for the safe storage and spill confinement of hazardous materials that are located conveniently close to work areas and easily relocated using fork trucks.
Since Hazmat Stations are typically accessed often without supervision, here are some tips to ensure that both workers and the environment stay safe.
1. Double Check Chemical Labeling and Safety Sheets
Although in most workplaces, WHIMIS Training and Certification programs are provided for employees annually, it is a good idea to mandate frequently scheduled safety checks to ensure that hazardous materials and chemicals are indeed labelled correctly. All necessary SDS (previously MSDS) need to be up to date and easy to locate.
The location of the SDS sheets should be posted at the Hazmat Station so they will be easy to find.
2. Don’t Store Incompatible Chemicals in the same Hazmat Station
When some gases or liquids are exposed to each other, they could cause violent chemical reactions potentially creating toxic, flammable, or explosive conditions. The station should regularly be inspected to ensure chemicals have not been mixed up or put in the wrong station.
3. Choose a Hazmat Station that has Shelving Spill Trays and Pallets
Make sure the Hazmat Station has an appropriate secondary containment volume to control any chemical spills. Keep on hand a suitable Chemical Spill Kit to clean up any spilled chemicals outside the Hazmat Station
4. Always use Protective Equipment and Clothing when Dealing with Chemicals
Workers should have training and easy access to PPE (personal protective equipment), eyewash stations, and appropriate dispensing equipment.
• Eye protection (safety glasses, goggles, face shield)
• Hand protection (Latex is not appropriate for chemical handling)
• Body protection (lab coat, apron, protective suit)
• Appropriate respiratory protection (CSA/OSHA)
• First aid safety kits
5. Keep Chemicals Secure
Always make sure that Hazmat Stations are locked and secure when not in use. Any act of theft or vandalism could result in an enormous fine for your company and a devastating impact on the environment.
6. Display Current Safety Information on the Hazmat Station Door
• Names of person(s) responsible for the area
• Emergency telephone numbers (Security, Fire Department)
• “In Case of Fire” Procedures
• Location of MSDS sheets
7. Assign Specific Workers to be Responsible for the Station
It is vital that at least two people on each shift be trained to handle emergency situations and inspections of the Hazmat Station. If one person is absent, then another is there to take responsibility. Having specific people in charge should stop any confusion about what to do if an emergency happens and will make sure that the station is inspected regularly.
Following these suggestions and proper regulatory compliance should help create a safe and productive workflow thanks to a conveniently placed Hazmat Station.