Tips for Handling Hazardous Chemicals

| BlackHawk Team

Chemicals are a clear and present hazard in the industrial workplace. Acids, solvents, corrosives, flammables, gases and explosives must be handled with extreme caution. The cost of accidents — in fatalities, injuries and lost productivity and property — are staggering.  

For example:

  • From 2011-2017, a yearly average of 42 workers died† from chemical-related accidents.
  • A minor fall on a slippery floor costs a company an average of $5000 and can escalate to $40,000 in more severe lost-time accidents.
  • In 2017 there was one structure fire reported every 63 seconds.

Thousands of reported non-fatal injuries, burns and toxic exposures often lead to serious long-term medical complications such as respiratory illnesses and cancer. It is easy to understand why safe chemical handling is not only smart, but a life saver.

Fortunately, chemical-related injuries and illnesses are mostly preventable if chemicals are handled with care and safety in mind.

Justrite, leaders in safe management of flammables and hazardous materials since 1906, offers tips on good handling methods.

General practices — Common sense and compliance

  • Locate materials near the point-of-use to improve efficiency and limit handling
  • Keep dangerous liquids organized and segregated (refer to product Safety Data Sheets)
  • Comply with federal OSHA and NFPA regulations and procedures and choose products that meet these standards
  • Identify and label all flammable contents
  • Secure hazardous materials in cabinets with locking devices

Containers

Safety containers minimize the risk of fires when handling hazardous liquids. Type I cans have a single opening, while Type II cans have two — one for filling/venting and one for pouring. Disposal containers hold waste solvents and chemicals for processing. Dip tanks are intended for parts cleaning.

Fluid Transfer

Take precautions when filling tank to avoid spills. Wide-mouth funnels make it easy to pour liquids into narrow-neck cans. Drum locks, antistatic wires, fill gauges and spill trays provide additional safety. Segregate incompatible waste fluids to avoid chemical reactions or explosions

Storage

Flammables, corrosives and acids have different storage requirements. Select the correct cabinet for the material to be stored (see chart below). EN series cabinets are specially insulated to meet the most stringent fire resistance standards. Store drums indoors or in weather-shielded outdoor areas.

Spill Containment

Leaks and spills are inevitable. Be prepared. Use drip/leak catchers to contain leaks or as an extra measure when filling containers.  Berms and diverters control larger spills and can be used to seal off a perimeter. Intermediate bulk container (IBC) systems.

Gas Cylinders

Heavy pressurized cylinders are as dangerous as bombs and difficult to handle. Use specially designed hand trucks to transport cylinders, and store cylinders in racks or lockers that keep them upright and secure.

Emergency

Speed matters: The first 10-15 seconds after exposure to a toxic substance are crucial. A swift response can prevent long-term harm. Safety showers and eyewash stations protect workers against chemical splashes, welding sparks and metal shavings.

Always wear proper PPE when handling chemicals and gases, including gloves and eye protection.

A quick guide to steel storage cabinets

Contents

Color

Common Features

Flammables

Yellow

Insulating air space for fire resistance, secure doors, meet OSHA and NFPA 30.

Combustibles

Red

Adjustable shelves for various size cans and sprays, insulating air space, meet OSHA and NFPA 30.

Acids and other toxics

Blue

With hazardous warning label to identify contents, meet NFPA 400 Hazardous Material Code

Corrosives

Light blue, silver or white

With corrosion resistant trays to trap leaks and epoxy finish for chemical resistance.

Pesticides

Green

Vented, fire-resistant, meet OSHA / NFPA 30 / NFPA 1 / IFC

Emergency

Orange

High visibility, room for respirators, first aid kits, radios, flashlights and more. ASTM / NFPA design.

Our trained professionals at BlackHawk Industrial are happy to help you with of your chemical handling questions. We welcome you to contact us here https://www.bhid.com/forms/emailusor call us TOLL FREE at (855) 610-1001. You can also check out our website at https://www.bhid.com/

 

†US Bureau of Labor Statistic