While storing chemicals (either onboard or in a workplace) may seem like a minor issue, the reality is it can lead to catastrophic outcomes!
There are specific requirements in relation to handling and storing chemicals. Many chemicals are fine to be stored next to each other, but some are not.
Some chemicals when stored together have the potential to present major hazards including explosion, fire, corrosive actions, etc.
Handling some chemicals can present potential health hazards ranging from minor skin irritations to sever buns, respiratory problems and many other health hazards.
In the workplace it’s easy to have a n approved flammable liquid storage cabinet but onboard vessels (depending on the vessels size) can be difficult. No matter whether onshore or onboard it’s important to identify flammable liquids correctly using a sign like below.
Other chemicals have labels specific to the potential hazard they present, e.g., Corrosive, Oxidizing, etc.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) (previously called Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
All chemicals used in the workplace (ashore or onboard) must have a SDS available for all crew and/or workers. The only exception is for domestic products bought of the shelf which are usually in small containers only, not 5 – 25 litres.
The SDS provides all the handling, storage, medical advice, PPE and potential hazards about the product in detail.
No matter what the chemical is, whether its and cleaning liquid, de greaser, fuel, etc. always check the SDS for any specific handling information. Identify what, if any PPE is required and do not at any time just go ahead and use chemicals that you are not familiar with or been instructed in their use.
Back too the SDS to check the storage requirements of each chemical and to identify if there are any specific requirements relative to that product.
Note that some chemicals can not be stored in close proximity to other specific chemical. Always check that you are not storing any “non-compatible” chemicals together.
The key recommendation for any hazardous chemicals and/or materials is to read the SDS and at a minimum check:
- Hazardous identification
- Potential health effects
- First Aid Measures
- Fire Fighting Measures
- Handling and Storage
- Toxicological information
By at least checking and following the above information you’ll eliminate potential hazards to yourself, others and the environment.
The best tip today is to identify what PPE is required and follow those recommendations to eliminate or at least minimise the risk of health hazards to yourself and others.
Don’t just think I’m only using this chemical for a couple of minutes, what’s the harm? The harm is that with some chemicals the potential for health related issues is immediate or close to it!