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12 quick tips about gas bottle storage

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It may well be a daily occurrence in Cambodia, where small motor cycles are commonly used for deliveries – but the way these two young men are transporting gas bottles leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt? We highlight a case that underlines just that point, and explain how to go about safe storage of gas bottles.

When the site security man did a random check on a passing pickup truck he found that two acetylene gas cylinders had been casually tossed into the back, and were rolling around unrestrained.

The driver of the truck, and whoever had loaded it, was clearly playing with fire, oblivious of the potential for destruction offered by out-of-control gas cylinders on the move on their own.

The ‘casual’ loading of the cylinders was perhaps a reflection on how safe correct storage of gas bottles is; given the number of gas bottles stored by companies around the UK, it’s rare that we hear of incidents involving them.

And that’s precisely why it’s well worth highlighting the right way to store gas bottles; advice the young men in our picture would do well to heed. And these are our top 12 quick tips to help you do it properly and safely.

1. Keep them upright: Gas bottles should always be upright, and fixed so they can’t fall over. The exception to that rule is applications in which they’re designed to be horizontal, of which bottles on gas-powered fork-lift trucks are the obvious example.

2. Keep them outdoors wherever possible: Any leaks will be neutralised by the good ventilation. If they have to be indoors, they’ll need to be behind a wall with at least 30 minutes fire resistance, and be alive to a host of other restrictions.

3. Store them in a cool dry place:
A shower of rain won’t harm them, but safe storage of gas bottles involves making sure they don’t stand in water. That can encourage corrosion, and damage the integrity of the bottles themselves, ultimately allowing the contents to escape. Make sure the base on which they stand is free draining. Equally, excessive heat can lead to explosion and fire, and the sun can be strong enough to cause problems, even in the UK. Make sure the bottles are shaded from the worst of the sun. Shade from buildings is effective, so long as creating that doesn’t cause other issues.

Gas Bottle Storage

4. Tie them up: Gas bottles can be tall relative to the width of their bases, and they’re all heavy, making them vulnerable to being tipped up when knocked. The weight means they’re not straightforward to handle, so removing one from a store could touch others, and cause them to fall. Better to have them tied up securely to prevent that from happening.

5. Not too near the fence: No gas bottles should be stored within a metre of a boundary, but that’s a minimum distance. The larger the collection of bottles to be stored, the further the collection will need to be from the boundary.

6. Don’t overstock: Quite apart from tying up valuable finance, storing too much gas creates an unnecessary hazard for your company, its employees and visitors. Keep just what you need and no more. Reputable suppliers will be able to replenish stocks quite quickly.

7. Don’t tempt fate: Safe storage of gas bottles involves keeping them away from combustible materials, such as stocks of timber, vehicle fuel tanks, or waste skips. Good housekeeping would suggest that regular rubbish disposal is a responsible way to operate a business anyway, and storing gas bottles near timber, diesel, or anything else that can burn is just, well, adding fuel to any fire that might break out.

8. Out of harm’s way: Store gas bottles away from heavy traffic areas. Delivery vehicles or your company’s own vans and fork trucks and their loading and unloading activities could easily knock them over, breaking valves and allowing gas to escape, for instance. Remember Murphy’s Law; if something can go wrong, it will. Far better to make sure, through proper planning, that it can’t go wrong in the first place. Keep them away from pedestrian entrances, and from drains. Leaking gas could ‘run’ into a drain, and ultimately lead to explosion.

9. Don’t go underground: This is the same thought as gas escaping from undetected leaks finding its way into drains. Heavier-than-air gas can settle in enclosed underground spaces – the bilges of boats, especially pleasure cruisers, are the classic example.

10. Manage stock: Store full and empty cylinders separately (having discrete gas bottle storage cages helps with that), and rotate stock so the oldest cylinders are the first ones to be used.

11. Keep them apart: It’s good practice to keep cylinders of different kinds of gases in separate stores. Not only are they not good mixers with each other, but it reduces the risk of the wrong type of gas being used for any particular application. Human error causes accidents!

12. Get a gas bottle storage cage: A model from our range of stoutly-made gas bottle storage cages will cover a number of bases for safe storage of gas bottles. Made from robust welded mesh and powder coated, these UK-made cages come in a variety of sizes, capable of storing up to 30 bottles. They can even be supplied in a galvanised finish, should you require it. To boost their security, they are drilled for bolting to the floor, but for ease of delivery and moving through your site, they’re flat-packed, but come with all the necessary fittings for easy assembly. All the sizes and specifications are shown on the page at the link above – and all come with free UK delivery.

Picture: 1000 words | Dreamstime

Storing gas bottles: The basics

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Storing gas bottles can seem daunting but it needn’t be with Safety Storage Centre’s fantastic new range of gas bottle storage cages. Read on for a full introduction of our range!

Gas bottles can be dangerous and tend to be rather heavy but if you follow a few basics then you can’t go too far wrong:

  • Store the gas bottles outside… Whilst there can be some exceptions to this, storing gas bottles outside is the safe course of action in the majority of circumstances;
  • Keep the gas bottles securely locked away… This is crucial to prevent thieves and vandals tampering with the dangerous bottles;
  • But don’t lock away in an enclosed cabinet… Ventilation is key with gas bottles. The storage facility should be secure, locked but allow good ventilation;
  • Whatever you do, don’t store near something that could cause ignition… Think about nearby heat sources, volatile chemicals or flammable materials and keep your gas bottles well away from those; and
  • Take advice if you have different types of gas bottles… For instance LPG should not be stored near to other gas cylinders.

Storing Gas Bottles

Gas bottle storage cages: The solution

To deal with the first three bullet points listed above, our gas bottle storage cages are the perfect design solution! They allow for outdoors storage, with a secure locking facility as well as providing ample ventilation for the gas bottles stored within. Storing gas bottles couldn’t possibly be made easier…

The cages are a top quality product and they are manufactured right here in the UK. They are made of powder coated steel and come with a hasp and staple design allowing you to fit your own padlock to provide the security that is needed. Or, if you need a padlock too, then visit our sister website Ultra Security Centre for a huge range to choose from.

The gas bottle storage cages come in a huge range of sizes depending on the nature and quantity of the bottles that you wish to store and there are various colour options too. If you want a bespoke design and size or if you want to upgrade to a galvanised finish then we can accommodate this too, you would just need to call us with your requirements.

Winter is coming: Get yours now!

Gas bottles are such an essential product to many people and companies. They can provide heating, cooking or be essential to commercial and industrial operations. Importantly, usage of gas bottles goes up hugely in the winter months. With the air turning a little cooler, and the end of September fast approaching, now is the best time to get your hands on one of our gas bottle storage cages.

Visit Safety Storage Centre or call us on 01724 281044.

Six life-saving lessons highlighted by Gas Safety Week

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Does one of your gas appliances burn with a yellow flame like this one? Then it could be putting your life at risk. Safety Storage Centre highlights the risks posed by gas in the home and the workplace, and highlights the work of Gas Safety Week 2016 to keep everyone safe.

Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Week have lots in common – and one vital difference. Neither smells, neither tastes of anything, and it’s impossible to tell either is there unless you’re aware of them.

But the big difference is that whilst Carbon Monoxide could kill you, Gas Safety Week which runs from 19th September to 25th September exists to keep you alive.

It’s the one week of the year that seeks to highlight what should be in our minds the whole year through – that Carbon Monoxide can kill, and will do so without mercy if given half a chance. How deadly is it? Industry knows it as the Silent Killer. That just about sums it up.

So how do you know if you’re suffering from the early stages of Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  1. Weakness
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Dizziness
  5. Dull headache
  6. You find to hard to breathe

They will happen if you breathe in small amounts; breathe in a lot, and the gas will replace oxygen in your bloodstream, and that’s when death could occur.

It’s facts like these that Gas Safety Week was created to highlight, for businesses, home owners and landlords.

Now in its sixth year, Gas Safety Week 2016 was launched in Parliament by Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield. He said the annual campaign had already made some changes for the better, but added that in spite of the progress, there was still some way to go.

He praised charities like the Dominic Rodgers Trust, which goes into schools to educate children about the issues.

Gas Safety Week

Jonathan Samuel is chief executive of Gas Safe Register, the organisation behind the annual campaign. He said his organisation’s role was to get the conversation started, and to encourage people to see the benefits of getting involved.

“It’s about ensuring people understand gas issues, and how to keep themselves safe,” he said.

We’d echo that objective, and offer these six top tips to keep safe from Carbon Monoxide.

Our six top prevention tips

  1. Have gas appliances checked annually. Gas Safe inspectors have found unsafe gas appliances in one in six of the 142,000 homes they visited in a year – so that’s a lot of potential for deaths…
  2. Look out for the flame on any gas burning appliances you may have. The flames should be blue with ‘sharp edges’. A yellow and ‘floppy’ flame is dangerous, and needs the attention of a professional. That’s because one of the reasons for a yellow flame is all of the gas isn’t being burnt. If it isn’t, Carbon Monoxide could be building up. Get an expert in to check.
  3. Don’t have ‘mates’ work on any gas appliances you may have at home or at work. The only people qualified to work on them are on a Gas Safe Register. and will have a card to prove it. Ask to see it.
  4. Get a carbon monoxide detector. The modern equivalent of the coal miners’ canary, carbon monoxide detectors like these, combined with a smoke detector, will tell you when there’s life threatening gas around before the gas has a chance to do you harm
  5. Check the Carbon Monoxide detector’s batteries regularly. If there’s no power, there’s no warning.
  6. Never take a barbeque indoors, including into a tent or caravan. Carbon Monoxide could cook your goose before the burgers are done.

Picture: Fedor Kondratenko | Dreamstime.com

COSHH cabinets: A brief history

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So what’s great about a COSHH cabinet? It’s almost 30 years since COSHH regulations were introduced, but there is still a misunderstanding about parts of the legislation, especially around the proper use of COSHH cabinets. Safety Storage Centre explains the essentials, and puts your knowledge to the test with a quick COSHH quiz.

Chemical storage has come a long way since the days of serried ranks of jars and bottles kept on open shelves like the ones in our picture, and with good reason. We are now much more aware of the possibility of harm that could be caused to ourselves and others by the chemicals we use in our everyday lives.

The need to recognise the potential hazards of everyday chemicals, and the way the risks from those hazards should be mitigated, was first formalised in law with the introduction of the COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations in 1988.  Part of these legal requirements is the way chemicals must properly be stored. This is where the COSHH cabinet comes in.

COSHH storage cabinets are specifically designed to keep potentially dangerous chemicals – ones identified in the regulations as corrosive, harmful, irritant, poisonous or toxic – out of harm’s way. Which, in one way or another, is almost everything we use on a near-daily basis, and even more potentially dangerous in schools or places where children or vulnerable adults live and work.

So what is special about a COSHH cabinet?

This question is the main purpose of this article. Here at Safety Storage Centre we sell a huge range of COSHH cabinets. Very often we get asked by customers to explain what is so special about a COSHH cabinet compared to an everyday metal cupboard.

Firstly, every COSHH cabinet is made to allow safe storage of products that fall under the scope of COSHH storage guidelines. This leads to a resulting cabinet which is lockable with sturdy construction. However, that alone isn’t enough to make it special.

The key elements of a good COSHH cabinet are for it to be leak-proof, and for it to have a sump at the bottom to collect chemicals that may accidentally be spilled. This is absolutely critical. Basic metal cupboards are unlikely to be constructed with such features in mind so if there is a spillage then the liquid is likely to run down to the bottom of the cupboard and out through any gaps.

Another key feature of a COSHH cabinet is that its shelves will tend to have a raised edge to help in spill control. It will also have warning stickers on its doors, which is a hugely important visual deterrent.

Understanding all of this makes it obvious why any ordinary cupboard, metal or otherwise, just won’t do. COSHH cabinets really are the superheroes of safe storage.

COSHH Cabinets

Picture: Debramillet | Dreamstime

COSHH cabinet: consider the weakest link

The weakest part of any COSHH cabinet will always be the people who use it. It’s therefore important that everyone on the premises where the cabinet is used understands that unless they are authorised to lock and unlock it they shouldn’t attempt to use it.

Anyone who is authorised, and has been entrusted with a key, must make sure that the COSHH cabinet is kept locked whenever its contents are not being used, and it should never be left unlocked and unattended.

It is also crucial to remember that materials stored inside must be stored in their original containers and must be clearly labelled. It is vital that if two items could potentially cause a chemical reaction if any spillages were to mix then these items should be stored away from each other in separate cabinets.

How to choose the right COSHH cabinet

There are numerous options when it comes to choosing a COSHH cabinet and you should ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What does my risk assessment say about the need for COSHH cabinets?
  • How much do I need to store?
  • Is there room for moving things around inside without knocking others over?
  • Am I likely to need more storage in the future?
  • Should I get one big cabinet for everything, or two or more smaller ones?
  • Can the cabinet be fixed in one place, or would having one on wheels for easy movement be more appropriate?

Bonus COSHH quiz…

We are experts in safe storage. If you have any questions, please get in touch with us and we will happily help. As an extra bonus, test your knowledge on COSHH and hazardous substances by trying our popular quiz… (Feel free to use it to test your employees, too.)

Secure in plain view: The virtues of wire mesh lockers

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No nasty surprises lurk inside wire mesh lockers, which combine high levels of security whilst leaving contents completely visible. That means their contents are not only safe from pilfering and unauthorised ‘borrowing’, but are out of harm’s way when it comes to the safety of others using the premises.

It’s important, expensive and compulsory, and yet it can melt away like April snow. We’re talking Personal Protective Equipment, without which no construction site can operate safely or legally.

The trouble is, no-one except the people who buy it realise how expensive it can be, with the result that the end user can see it as having no monetary value at all, and treats it accordingly. It gets lost, buried under other materials in the back of the van, and generally abused. Why not? It’s easy enough to get more from the stores, isn’t it?

Well, it probably is, which is fine for the employee short of a pair of expensive leather gloves, but it’s a drain on company resources, and ultimately, harms the bottom line.

Protect profits with wire mesh lockers

The way to stem the unnecessary spending could well be… more spending. However, don’t think of it as that; think of it as investing in profit protection, which it would be if the spending was on wire mesh lockers. Better than conventional construction site lockers, wire mesh lockers offer complete protection of what’s inside, but (due to their wire mesh construction) couple that with complete visibility.

Kept close to the signing in book, where everyone needs to be at the start and end of their shift, a range of these lockers would give each employee a safe place to store their PPE when they’re not wearing it and it’s immediately obvious if someone is missing a vital piece of kit.

Wire Mesh Lockers: Essential for a booming industry

Let us think, for a moment, about the future of construction. Major projects are in the offing, like HS2, and some house builders are saying Brexit hasn’t dulled the demand for new homes at all. What’s more, according to the Office for National Statistics, there were almost 180,000 more people in work during the March to May quarter this year. A lot of them will need PPE of some description, and they’re gong to need somewhere to keep it.

Wire Mesh Lockers
All the models in our range of wire mesh lockers have modern construction site workers’ needs in mind. The wire mesh allows air to circulate, so that soiled and damp clothing can air properly, even though it’s stored securely and visibly.

As well as security, why else do we love wire mesh lockers

Wire mesh lockers can be an aid to good housekeeping too. Conventional construction site lockers can be hiding places for all sorts of unpleasant things, such as unwashed socks and shirts, or an uneaten piece of fruit from an old packed lunch. Apart from being unhygienic, such things can add to the general unpleasant fustiness of locker rooms. However, their visibility, thanks to the construction of a wire mesh locker, is obvious to all, with the result that peer pressure or management intervention can quickly sort the situation out.

The good housekeeping theme extends to larger wire mesh lockers, which might reasonably be called wire mesh cupboards. These are perfect for all kinds of storage needs, from the cleaners’ store of vacuums, dusters, mops and buckets to the PE teacher’s collection of bats, balls and other exercise essentials.

Another invaluable feature of wire mesh lockers is about safety, of power tools in domestic and light industrial settings, for example. Not only do such lockers keep expensive tools away from prying fingers, it prevents these tools from being knocked over causing damage to themselves as well as other items in the vicinity.

Flexible in construction

Our wire mesh lockers are made to order, and come in a variety of configurations, so there’s bound to be at least one that’s ideal for your needs. Galvanised for a bright and durable finish, they’re all made from tough steel wire, and come in three depths, each with a number of options in the same space – including being sub-divided into six individual lockers.

To complete the security, each locker is provided with a hasp and staple to which you can add the padlock of your choice, or employees could supply their own. If you need any help with this, then you can also view our sister website’s range of high security padlocks.

Fireproof Safe or Fireproof Data Safe?

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Fireproof safes can be a difficult area to understand. There are so many different types and specifications that the choice can be bewildering. This guide provides some clear and insightful guidance on some of the key questions to ask and product differences to be aware of.

One of the first questions to ask yourself is what you are wanting to put in the safe. Ask yourself this question – do you want the safe for fireproof document storage or for fireproof data storage?

Generally, in an office environment, these are the two main types of content for a fireproof safe. A company may wish to store important company paper documents or they may wish to store a digital back up of their computer records. In either case, investing in a fireproof safe is an extremely wise business decision and can potentially allow your business to be up and running very quickly after a fire.

However, the type of fireproof safe required will differ. Paper will ignite at around 177 degrees Celsius whereas some computer data will ignite at 52 degrees Celsius. Therefore, it is quite clear that a different level of fire resistant protection is needed for these differing types of company record.

So, if you are interested in fireproof data storage you may want to look at the Phoenix Datacare range which is tested to Swedish NT Fire 017 standard and is specifically designed for computer backup tapes or digital media. Alternatively, a similar product for fireproof document storage would be the Phoenix Titan range, which is tested to the Swedish NT Fire 017 for paper so as to give 60 minutes of fire resistance to protect paper documents.

What is meant by fire resistance?

When we talk about fire resistance, we are talking about how long the safe’s construction will resist fire and prevent the inside contents reaching the temperatures mentioned above. Testing is done under controlled conditions and the Swedish NT Fire test mentioned above requires the safe to be heated to a minimum of 945 degrees Celsius. The average temperature of a fire will differ markedly but a figure of around 585 degrees Celsius is widely cited. So, you will see how rigorous the testing is.

Then, quite simply, based on this testing the safe is given a time for which it is fire resistant under those conditions; that time is the fire resistance that is mentioned on our product pages.

Do you need a fireproof and waterproof safe?

Clearly, a good quality fireproof safe is purchased as an insurance policy. We hope that a fire never occurs and that it will never be required to demonstrate its fire resistance but, unfortunately, the worst does sometimes happen.

If there is a fire, what will the fire brigade do to try and extinguish the fire? In all probability, it is likely to involve a lot of water… Therefore, a key thing to think about is whether you want your fireproof safe to also be water resistant. It is all well and good having a fireproof safe doing its job against the fire only for it to be frustrated in its efforts at preserving crucial documentation by water getting in and destroying the contents.

The Phoenix Datacare range mentioned earlier offers water resistance. Another safe to consider if water resistance is crucial to you would be one of our best sellers being the Burton Compact range of fireproof data safes; these are stated by the manufacturer to be waterproof.

Fireproof Safes

What type of lock do you want?

All safes, not just fireproof safes, can come with a broad and potentially confusing range of locking options. The most simple choice is between either a traditional key lock or an electronic lock, such as with this fire resistant Chubbsafes Primus safe.

However, increasingly, safe manufacturers are introducing more and more technological advancements to the locking systems that they offer. For instance, on the Phoenix Firefighter range it is possible to request a biometric fingerprint lock.

So, when choosing a fireproof safe, you should spend some time thinking about the different locking options and focus on how you would wish to access the safe and what levels of security your business requires.

We are experts in fireproof safes

This guide is intended to point you in the right direction in the central question of what exactly are fireproof safes and what do you need to think about when buying one.

There will undoubtedly be more questions or more specific, technical points that you are unsure on. In that case, call our expert team on 01724 281044/277479. At Safety Storage Centre, we sell fireproof safes from all of the leading brands and we back up this range with excellent product knowledge and customer service.

Flammable Substances – Ten facts you might never have known

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Did you know that a cloth or brush used to apply certain kinds of furniture preservative can catch fire of its own accord? Or that vapours from flammable liquids can flow like water? If not, you need Safety Storage Centre’s list of ten facts about flammable substances, and maybe a flammable storage cabinet too…

Modern workplaces and homes require the use of a broad spectrum of flammable substances, each of which presents similar, but slightly different hazards.

They’re all so familiar to us that there is a danger of being too relaxed around them, which is why the Safety Storage Centre has produced this list of ten facts you might not have been aware of when thinking about flammable substances.

1. Flammable liquids don’t burn. Burning happens when the conditions are right for the liquid to give off vapour into the atmosphere. It’s the vapour, mixed with the oxygen in the air, which burns, rather than the body of the liquid itself.

2. ‘Flammable’ doesn’t mean ‘combustible’. The words are not interchangeable, even though the distinction might be seen as a technicality. It’s about temperature, or more precisely, flashpoint. Flashpoint is the minimum temperature at which a liquid can form sufficient vapour to be ignited above its surface. As a general rule, liquids which have a flashpoint below 37.8oC (or 100oF) are said to be flammable; those that have a flashpoint above that temperature are combustible.

3. Vapours can flow like water. Some hazardous vapours are denser, and therefore heavier than air; others are lighter. The heavier ones can flow like water and pool in unventilated areas such as boat bilges, where they can lay undetected until an ignition source creates a spark leading to an explosion. In the event of a fire, it can spread along a vapour trail and cause a fire some distance away from the ignition source. When working around hazardous vapours, never ventilate an area with an electric fan; turning it on could provide the source of ignition. This is called flashback.

4. Flashpoints are like fingerprints. Every substance has a different one, and they can vary widely. Before working with any flammable or combustible substance, you need to know what its flashpoint is, and act accordingly.

5. The difference between ‘lean’ and ‘rich’. Most often used when talking about petrol engines, these terms refer to ‘flammable’ or ‘explosive’ limits. These are the concentrations above and below which vapours can’t be ignited. In the case of petrol, the lowest limit is 1.4%, (below which the engine won’t run well because the mixture is too lean). The upper limit is 7.6%, above which it is too rich. However, these figures are intended as guides. Always err on the side of caution.

6. A source of ignition isn’t always necessary. Substances have the capability to ‘go it alone’ in the explosion and fire stakes. That happens when they reach their auto-ignition temperature, at which point they will catch fire.

Flammable Substance

7. Static electricity on clothing can ignite a vapour. The tiniest spark can cause a fire, and that includes static electricity earthed from clothing. Wearing cotton reduces static build-up, and avoiding rubber-soled shoes, which are great insulators, will help static to disperse as it forms.

8. Oily rags can spontaneously combust. Alarmingly, when there’s been a spill clean up, the danger isn’t over until the cleaning cloths are safely disposed of, because they can catch fire of their own accord due to heat released as a result of a process known as oxidation. This is even true for some apparently harmless oil-based furniture treatments, where the application cloths or brushes need to be treated with the upmost respect, and disposed of or washed carefully.

9. Nylon will stick to the skin when it burns. That’s because it’s a man-made fibre, and will melt. Far better to wear natural fibres. Wool’s good, but remember the thought about static electricity in item 7.

10. Fire isn’t the only danger. Flammable substances can cause harm to health through exposure to the skin. They can be corrosive, and although their vapours are usually invisible, they can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, and irritation of the eyes or throat. And that’s just another reason to make sure that they’re stored and handled correctly.

Storage of flammables – how to do it safely

Here are a few basic rules about storage of flammables, and they’re covered mainly by the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). The Health and Safety Executive goes into much more detail on its website.

The Regulations say that in terms of liquids, it’s best to keep the smallest-possible quantity in the workplace at any one time – enough for half a day, or a single shift. When not in use, containers need to be kept in a suitable cabinet or bin not only designed to resist fire, but also to contain spills – up to 110% of the largest vessel normally stored in it.

This is where flammable storage cabinets can be so important for the safe storage of these dangerous flammable substances. You must also think of placement of any flammable storage cabinet. Although they need to be close to the workplace for the sake of convenience, they need to be in places outside the work area, and where they won’t get in the way of an evacuation.

All kinds of sizes of flammable storage cabinet are available and we have a full range at the Safety Storage Centre. It may even be that more than one cabinet is required; regulations about the storage of flammables require that different classes of hazardous substance should not be mixed.

We understand that flammable substance storage can be tricky and we’d love to help. Visit our website and give us a call.

Picture: Fotoknips via Dreamstime.

Pesticides definition, pesticide storage and food security

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This article explains how to stay on the right side of the law when it comes to pesticide storage. Food security in the 21st century seems to rely increasingly on chemical intervention and ingenuity – but we need protection from ourselves in controlling the way we intervene, which is why pesticide storage cabinets have such a vital role for farmers, gardening services, wildlife charities and the education sector.

Firstly, let us start with a definition of pesticides which we have attempted to make as concise as possible: “A chemical substance which is used to destroy insects that are harmful to cultivated plants.”

One prime example of how pesticides are relevant to our daily lives is their use in maintaining food security. Going back many years, the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-19th century was a period of mass starvation, caused by a disease-related potato crop failure. This terrible episode showed us that, left unchecked, nature can cause havoc with food security, an issue of increasing concern in the 21st century.

By way of illustration, there are about 10,000 species of plant-eating insects, between them responsible for the loss of up to 40% of food production. As this article’s picture illustrates, without pesticides the proportion of losses would soar, with devastating consequences for the human population. To control that bio-threat, often the only recourse is to use pesticides.

Pesticide Cabinets Image

However, incorrect use of pesticides can cause collateral damage in the environment; think of leaching into watercourses, and the consequences for fish populations and, indeed, their entire ecosystem. The consequences of this can be just as troubling as the threats to food security detailed above. Also, consider the impact on your finances from pesticide misuse since pesticides are not cheap. Letting them be washed away really is money down the drain.

This is where we feel that clear guidance on pesticide storage and proper use of pesticide cabinets can really be useful.

Pesticide storage for end users: The rules

Legislation covering the way end users must safely store pesticides can be found within a myriad of different rules and regulations. To summarise, you have the COSHH Regulations, as well as the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR), Paragraphs 94-96. You also have appendices A & B and Paragraph 104 in the DSEAR ACoP L136 together with the Factory Inspectorates Certificate of Approval No. 1 parts 3 and 4. All of that is a real mouthful, but we find that it is explained in more simple and helpful terms in The Health and Safety Executive’s guide for professional pesticide users.

A lot of that advice is geared to large-scale users, but those with smaller requirements are probably best served with bespoke ‘bought-in’ pesticide storage cabinets. The beauty of these pesticide cabinets is that they have been built with the relevant legislation in mind, and are therefore fully compliant in their off-the-shelf form. This completely does away with the worry of creating the large purpose-built store that farming on an industrial scale is likely to require.

In selecting the best cabinet for your needs, we’d point you to those HSE guidelines, but as an at-a-glance list of suggestions, we’d say:

• Pick a cabinet large enough to hold everything you need at periods of peak demand;
• Remember that used containers also need to be stored for correct disposal, as well as the full ones;
• Allow for material having remained in store, perhaps because of poor weather, when new deliveries might arrive;
• Get good locks, and make sure employees know how important it is to lock the cabinets when the contents aren’t in use;
• Make sure the cabinet is large enough for employees to get things in and out of without the risk of knocking over other stored items;
• Look for flexibility, like the ability to add extra shelves to make best use of the space;
• If your pesticides are in liquid form, then a liquid-tight sump is a must, and needs to be in proportion with the stored contents – it’s no good catching just half a spill; and
• Make sure the construction materials and methods are durable, and look for a manufacturer’s guarantee.

Pesticide Storage Cabinets: further details

As with all secure storage solutions, it’s best to cater for a ‘worst-case’ scenario. What if the cabinet is in a fire, for example? In that case, you will need to consider the cabinet’s fire resistance, in order to stop the contents igniting and making a bad situation worse. Being liquid tight helps keep spills in, but also helps to keep water out, which is a great asset if the sprinklers in your premises are activated, or the fire brigade has to turn out with its hoses. Check for the fire resistance; this premium range, for example, is designed to protect its contents for 30 minutes.

Notice too that all the pesticide cabinets that we offer are finished in red with hazard labelling. The red colour is not only an instinctive warning of potential danger, but if there is a fire, then fire fighters can easily identify the cabinet when bringing the fire under control.

It may be that it’s safer, in your environment, to have mobile pesticide storage. This reduces the risk of spills whilst moving chemicals between store and application area. These British-made cabinets are easy to move and are fitted with an integral liquid-tight sump. The four-caster arrangement does away with potentially-dangerous manual handling activities too.

Further guidance on pesticide storage compliance

This article is aimed at providing an easy to read overview of the rules and key considerations of pesticide storage. If you require further information or more detailed guidance on compliance please get in touch with us at the Safety Storage Centre.

Picture: Epitavi, via Dreamstime

Test yourself with our COSHH quiz

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Take our COSHH quiz to see if you know everything you should about COSHH.

There can only be a tiny minority of people who have never heard the acronym COSHH. We all know what it stands for, and what we must do as a result. But do we? Is our knowledge as thorough as we might like?

Life as we live it in the 21st century is made possible by our mastery of thousands of chemicals in common use. Used correctly, they can add to the quality of life; used incorrectly, they can do exactly the opposite.

The biggest danger they pose comes not from the chemicals themselves, but from the way we use and store them. Those using these chemicals must be familiar with the correct use of COSHH Cabinets for safe COSHH storage. Familiarity with these products can allow sloppiness to creep into our attitudes to the way we use and store them.

Therefore, we’ve developed this simple COSHH quiz to let you discover how much you know, or thought you knew, about the risks you may deal with every day.

COSHH Questions and Answers (including a COSHH Symbols Quiz)

1. What does COSHH stand for?

A) Control of substances harmful to health;
B) Control of substances hazardous to health;
C) Control of substances hazardous to hands

2. Which of the following are not covered by COSHH regulations?

A) Germs;
B) Radioactive substances;
C) Fumes

3. What qualifications must you hold to do COSHH risk assessments?

A) IOSH;
B) NEBOSH;
C) None

4. A COSHH cabinet must always be secured to floor or wall. True or false?

5. COSHH regulations were first introduced into the UK in which year?

A) 1988;
B) 1998;
C) 2008

6. Significant findings from any COSHH risk assessments must always be recorded

A) for companies with 10 employees or more;
B) for companies with 5 employees or more;
C) for every company, regardless of the number of employees

7. If COSHH-controlled substances are present in a workplace, and dust may arise from them, good ventilation is necessary. How many complete changes of air per hour are recommended?

A) 1-3;
B) 3-5;
C) 5-10

8. Which of the following is NOT a requirement for a COSHH cabinet?

A) It must contain a series of drawers for small tins and bottles;
B) It must be constructed so as to be tamper-proof;
C) It must be lockable.

9. Any substance covered by COSHH can be stored in all COSHH cabinets. True or false?

10. Which of the following is COSHH NOT designed to protect?

A) Staff in hospitals;
B) Children in schools;
C) Workers in the offshore industry;
D) Vulnerable adults in care homes.

11. The illustration on this blog shows seven symbols associated with materials that might be associated with COSHH. What do they mean? (Score one point for each correct answer)

COSHH Quiz

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. If a COSHH cabinet is available, it is acceptable to use it for storing products in other than their original packaging, so long as the name of the contents is written on the alternative packaging in capital letters. True or false?

COSHH Quiz Answers

1 B;

2 B;

3 C;

4 False – mobile versions exist;

5 A;

6 B;

7 C;

8 A;

9. False. Flammable materials should be stored in fire-resistant COSHH cabinets;

10 None of the above. It is intended to protect all groups;

11) A = explosive; B = oxidising; C = corrosive; D = harmful to the environment; E = harmful; F = toxic; G = flammable;

12. False. Under no circumstances should products be stored in other than their original packaging.

How did you do in our COSHH Quiz?

Award yourself three points for each correct answer.

If you scored 40, you’re probably in a safety-related job. If you’re not, then you may have missed your vocation.

If you scored 30 or more, you’re probably careful at work, and understand both why COSHH is necessary and the consequences of ignoring it.

If you scored 18 or more, you probably need a refresher, and it would be advisable to speak to someone about ways to brush up your knowledge.

If you scored 9 or less, it’s a wonder you’re allowed out on your own, since you could well be putting not only your life at risk, but the lives of your colleagues too.

How to choose COSHH storage cabinets

COSHH storage is relatively simple once you are aware of the risks, and how important it is to protect people from them. Used in conjunction with the proper training and discipline, COSHH cabinets will protect the people in your business, no matter what it is, by keeping dangerous materials under control.

Our range of COSHH cabinets are of robust construction, and have a powder-coated finish as well as interiors designed to contain spills, should they occur. Specific detail about each of the products is available on its product page, but as a general word of advice we’d suggest you pick one that might appear to be larger than you need, to allow for business growth. However, don’t be tempted to use the space to buy more of the substances you intend to store than you actually need. Larger volumes usually translate into larger risks!

We are passionate about helping you and making your compliance obligations that little easier to manage. We would be keen to know how you did in our COSHH quiz so follow us on Twitter here and let us know how you got on!

Laptop Lockers, Laptop Safes and more: Top tips to store your laptop securely

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This article provides laptop storage ideas to secure your laptop making essential reading for all types of laptop user.

This year, the 9th February marks Safer Internet Day which is co-ordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre. This event is aimed at raising awareness and thought surrounding how the internet is used and to encourage safe use by all. At Safety Storage Centre, this got us thinking about safety in connection with the device that millions use to access the internet – the laptop. What are the best ways to keep that expensive piece of kit safe?

In celebration of Safer Internet Day, Safety Storage Centre have come up with 5 top tips on how to keep your laptop safe and secure:

1. Buy a Laptop Security Case for when you are on the move. These cases are specifically designed to protect the laptop and its fragile and delicate components by having key padding and protection in all the right places. Importantly, their design is understated and discreet to avoid advertising the presence of a laptop to any potential thieves. They are also extremely convenient for the user by having plenty of storage space for notes, magazines and papers and this presents a major advantage to any traveller.

2. At Safety Storage Centre, our laptop security cases come fitted with a security cable and the proper use of this device is our second top tip for secure storage of your laptop. These cables tend to be made from steel and they allow you to attach your laptop to a fixed object for when you need to leave the device temporarily. This provides an added layer of safe storage for when you are in public places or for when you need to leave the laptop for an extended period of time at work or at college.

Laptop Security
 

3. Regardless of the presence of a security cable, whether you are at school, in the workplace or travelling, you should ensure that you keep your laptop within your sight as much as possible. When this is not possible and you have to leave your laptop for long periods of time, you should store your laptop somewhere safe and secure rather than leaving it lying around unprotected. Laptop safes are ideal for this purpose, particularly in the residential, hotel or business setting. They are very easy to operate and feature modern electronic locking systems. For the school or heavily populated work environment, laptop lockers are a good bet as they have separate, secure compartments to allow for the safe storage of a number of laptops. This makes them ideal for environments with lots of laptop computers.

4. Ensure that you think about the heat generated by the key electrical components of your laptop. When charging your laptop, heat is generated by the electrical components and there are secure storage solutions specifically designed with this in mind to facilitate safe charging of the device. These are known as laptop charging trolleys and laptop charging lockers. They are specifically designed with ventilated compartments to ensure that heat is dissipated during charging. The trolleys are particularly useful by allowing for easy movement of the laptops, making them a highly portable safe storage solution. The trolleys even come in a narrow width option which is great for navigating between rows of desks in school and college environments.

5. Finally, as an added precaution, ensure that you keep a note of the make, model, serial and service number of your laptop. Then, in the event of the worst case happening and your laptop being stolen or going missing, you will be able to provide this information to the police and it may just help in tracing the device at a later date.

Finally, a bonus top tip…:

Visit the Safety Storage Centre to view our extensive range of laptop storage products.

Picture: Martin Clark via Flickr

 

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