12 quick tips about gas bottle storage

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

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.

Flammable Substances – Ten facts you might never have known

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

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

Understand the other words that mean ‘bomb’ in the workplace

Safe storage of gas cylinders in workplaces is vital for the safety of people and processes – because, if mistreated, compressed gas contains enough energy to tear open a steel cylinder as easily as if it were made of aluminium foil. And the problems get worse when flammable gases are involved…

We all know what a bomb looks like in cartoons, don’t we? – A black sphere with a burning fuse sticking out of it. To remove any doubt the word ‘bomb’ is usually written on it in bold capital letters.

But the giveaway word isn’t forced to be ‘bomb’, any more than the tell-tale shape is always that distinctive black sphere. In real life the bomb could just as easily be a cylinder of blue, red, black, or a number of other colours, and the giveaway word could be ‘propane’, ‘butane’…or simply ‘gas’.

And that’s our point in Gas Safety Week, which this year runs for the week of September 14-20. Its main function is to highlight the need for safety around gas and gas appliances, but we’d say it’s also important to think about gas bottle storage relating to portable gases, relied on so heavily for domestic and leisure purposes.

Gas bottles are latent bombs because of the pressure of the gas within. So great is the force that it can tear the steel walls like paper. The devastation that can be caused by one exploding, even without an associated fire, can be seen here in a video (though we offer no comment on the manual handling or securing of the cylinders involved.)

As always in workplace safety, the first thing to get right is mind set; the understanding of the risks involved, and the appropriate behaviour required as a result. Gas bottles should be treated as if they were unexploded bombs, because careless handling of them can have the same effect, as video compilations on the internet prove all too clearly.

So how should gas bottles be stored?

Bomb• Always upright – in storage, in transit, and in use
• In well ventilated areas – preferably outdoors and away from doors, windows and drains. This is because flammable gas like butane and propane are heavier than air, and will flow and pool at ground level
• Away from heat or ignition sources – heat makes the gas expand, increasing pressure inside the bottle
• Controlled in gas bottle cages or purpose-designed gas cylinder cabinets (the latter are fire resistant, offering up to 90 minutes’ protection)
• The right distance from boundaries and buildings
• Fit plastic caps on stored cylinders, even when they are empty
• With a regularly-serviced 9kg dry powder fire extinguisher in the area

Things to avoid in compressed gas cylinder storage

• Never store or use them below ground – remember that gas is heavier than air
• Don’t keep them where gas is prohibited
• Don’t store them near anything that could corrode the bottle, making it weaker
• If no alternative to inside storage is available, the maximum weight of LPG cylinders that may be stored in a shop of office is 70kg, but this is reduced to 15kg where residential property is involved.

Gas cylinder cabinets are made of durable and protected steel, whilst lockable gas cylinder storage cages are made from galvanised and welded mesh, offering long life and performance in all kinds of weather.

In thinking about the weather, it is also important to remember that although the right place for storage of compressed gas cylinders is outdoors, even dampness in the atmosphere has a corrosive effect over time. Paint finishes can be damaged when cylinders are removed, allowing corrosion to set in on the steel beneath.

If a gas bottle has been kept outside for a long time, even appropriate storage won’t protect it from that – but it’s worth asking if you actually need the cylinder and the gas it contains. If the answer is ‘no’, then the best course of action would be to remove it completely.

For more information about the safe storage of gas cylinders visit our advice page on “Compressed gas cylinder safety”.

#GSW2015

Seven rules for safe storage of Highly Flammable Liquids

The risks associated with highly flammable liquid storage should never be underestimated, but with the right attention to detail these liquids can be stored and used safely, with the risk of fire and explosion under control. Safety Storage Centre shows the correct way to do it.

Highly flammable liquids are like a genie in a bottle. Properly contained, they’re fine; once released, anything can happen. Like a genie, they can appear in a flash, accompanied by a cloud of smoke. Unlike a genie, they’re not going to grant you three wishes. Instead, there’s likely to be only one – that you’d stored them properly from the beginning.

That was a lesson learned from the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot fire, which burned for five days in December 2005, and by the woman in York who suffered extensive burns a few years later when she was decanting petrol from a jug in her kitchen close to a lit cooker.

The scale of these incidents is vastly different; the lessons identical. The most important of those was that safety took second place to expediency. That shift in priorities was a recipe for disaster. In the former case it resulted in the largest industrial fire ever in the UK; in the latter, it was life-changing.

Seven golden rules for storage of Highly Flammable Liquids

1. Understand the regulations: These are the Explosive atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). They explain the way highly flammable liquids should be stored and used in the workplace. We provide a quick guide to the DSEAR Safety Regulations, and the Health & Safety Executive covers them extensively here.

2. Understand the substances: Some highly flammable liquids ought to be obvious, like petrol, (though it’s fair to say that it’s not universally obvious, as illustrated by the lady and her jug of petrol). Solvents, paints, liquefied gas, and varnishes, amongst others, can be involved too. Furthermore, although they’re not liquids, it’s worth remembering that dusts and gases can cause explosions too.

Highly Flammable Liquids3. Do a thorough risk assessment: It’s obviously impossible to keep all highly flammable liquids locked in proper cabinets all the time; they need to be used. A risk assessment requires an employer or duty holder to examine not only a number of factors about storage, but also about how chemicals are used, and the means of escape for people in the work area.

The HSE offers thorough guidance here.

4. Keep them out of the way: Put store cupboards away from heat sources which might raise the temperature. Even strong sunlight from a window could push the temperature beyond the flashpoint of some liquids.

5. ‘Empty’ doesn’t mean ‘safe’: Just because a bottle used to contain HFLs is empty doesn’t mean it’s not at risk of starting a fire. Residual fumes will remain, as well as a few drops of liquid. It’s always best to assume that empty bottles are full, and treat them with the same respect.

6. Keep them in a proper safety storage cabinet: A cabinet for storage of HFLs is a specialised piece of equipment. Thinking that a COSHH cabinet will suffice is an easy trap to fall into. Don’t be fooled. They’re not the same thing. Cabinets should be used for flammable petrochemicals and solvents only.

Having them share space with corrosive oxidants, acids, alkalis or other materials that could react with the solvents or cause corrosion of the cabinet should be avoided. Further important information about the bulk storage of Highly Flammable Liquid’s is available in our advice pages and with each product description, but the appropriate regulations offer an overview.

In summary, they say, construction materials need to have at least 30 minutes fire resistance, joints should be completely sealed, lids and doors should be close fitting, and the construction materials should have a melting point above 750ºC.

7. Did you know? No working area ought to contain more of a highly flammable liquid than is necessary for one shift. The rest should be stored safely, with the workplace stock being replaced regularly in small quantities.

Safety Storage Centre offers a number of appropriate cabinets for hazardous substance storage meeting the right legislation. We offer a range of sizes, so there is sure to be one that meets your needs. There are even models on wheels, allowing the right protection to be moved with the flammable liquid, assuring greater levels of safety.

Picture: Greg Davis, Dreamstime

Why schoolboy foolishness means you need the correct chemical storage cabinets

Chemicals are all around us in everyday life, and their safe storage is controlled by legislation. Safety Storage Centre looks at the anatomy of chemical storage cabinets to show why they facilitate to keep universities and colleges on the right side of the law.

An elderly lady living near us spent many happy years as a school dinner lady, and would often recount the stories of her experiences and the things done by the children in her care.

One of her favourites involved Harry, a cheeky seven-year-old prone to getting himself into scrapes. She recalled being approached by several of Harry’s friends in a state of high excitement. Their spokesman piped up: “Miss, Miss, please Miss, Harry’s washed his hands and his arms, Miss, right up to the elbows, Miss!”

Although hand washing before meals was to be commended, she thought, going right up to the elbow was perhaps a tiny bit excessive. Then came the punchline: “But Miss, he hasn’t rolled his sleeves up, Miss!”

Don’t be prone to foolishness when storing hazardous chemicals

The incident of Harry’s sleeves serves to illustrate perfectly that people are prone to do irrational and illogical things, and often require protecting from themselves. When it comes to chemicals, such protection is enshrined in legislation in a number of ways, but thorough implementation of the regulations requires specialist storage solutions like chemical storage cabinets in industry and education alike.

They wouldn’t have helped Harry, of course. He was in a primary school in the 1950s, so the only chemicals he was every likely to get close to were out of harm’s way on a high shelf in the cleaner’s cupboard, which was always kept locked.

However, chemicals are used in other educational establishments, and even at Universities we hear of student pranks that step beyond the bounds of common sense, potentially in the lab as well as out of it.

Chemical storage cabinets and the law

Chemical Storage CabinetAll manner of chemicals were once stored on open shelving in dark glass bottles bearing labels in Latin, just like those in our picture, but times have changed significantly. The regulations for a chemical storage cabinet dictate their physical features.

For example, safe storage calls for segregation, secure storage and transport of corrosive acid and alkali substances, and is covered by COSHH 2002, Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR), Paragraphs 94-96, along with appendices A & B and Paragraph 104 in the DSEAR ACoP L136 together with the factory Inspectorate’s Certificate of Approval No. 1 parts 3 and 4.

That’s a mouthful, which is why Safety Storage Centre has done the investigation for you, and put together a range of chemical storage cabinets which comply with all of those rules.

And that means you can expect to see:

• Construction using 0.9m steel
• Solid seam welds
• Corrosion resistant materials
• Powder-coated finishes
• Fully rebated doors
• Two-way locking handles
• Liquid-tight sump trays
• Appropriate hazard warning labels

These cabinets recognise that there may be a need for their contents to be used in more than one location, and are therefore some are fitted with sturdy wheels to allow them to be moved to the point of use in complete safety.

Given the important role played by your chemical storage cabinet, it pays to make sure you’re buying it from a reputable supplier.

Safety Storage Centre offers a range of top quality lab storage products in a variety of sizes, all sharing the same qualities that mean they meet the required standard. Visit www.safetystoragecentre.co.uk

Why protecting the environment needs us all to work together

On June 5th the United Nations will be promoting World Environment Day, this year to make us aware that we’re using the planet’s resources faster than is sustainable. Safety Storage Centre wants to do its bit by raising awareness of the need for safe storage of chemicals, so there’s no danger of them causing pollution in spills that damage our under-pressure resources.

The French know a thing or two about food, and they’ve just changed their rules to make it go further. From now on supermarkets in the country aren’t allowed to throw any away.

It happens in many food stores, not only in France, but around the developed world. Once stock gets close to being out of date off the shelves it goes, ready to be replaced with newer incarnations of the same thing. This clever new law will force supermarkets to become inventive with what method they choose for disposal. Some will no doubt be donated, some will go for animal food. All of it will have a beneficial use.

We’re all a bit guilty

World Environment DayHowever, there’s an underlying issue here, and it’s that we’ve brought this situation on ourselves. It starts because we tend to seek out the longest-dated item or the best-looking vegetables on the supermarket shelves, regardless of the fact that the less attractive ones are perfectly safe to eat. Some of it never even gets to the shelves; cauliflowers have lots of leaves that are hacked off before the heart is offered for sale; sprouts grow on stems that are topped with leaves, almost like a free cabbage.

The problem is that we just don’t want them. It gets worse because we then over-purchase, and throw food away at the end of the week, and that problem’s compounded because local authorities have to find some way of disposing of it all.

The environmental elephant in the room

But the real elephant in the room is that we can’t afford it – not in a monetary sense, though we could arguably make better use of our cash – but in an environmental sense. Put simply, we’re putting too much pressure on the resources the planet can deliver. We need to be more careful, or there will be nothing left for our grandchildren.

That’s the message coming from the United Nations for this year’s World Environment Day on June 5th. This year’s theme is about consuming with care. Says the UN World Environment Day web site:

“The well-being of humanity, the environment, and the functioning of the economy, ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources. And yet, evidence is building that people are consuming far more natural resources than what the planet can sustainably provide.”

What chemical storage cabinets have to do with World Environment Day

All the more reason, then, to look after what we have.

Safety Storage Centre recognises the dangers to the planet of spilled chemicals, but also understands that they have a role to play in our lives. Careful storage is therefore required, and is covered by a number of regulations.

We’ve pulled the important ones together on our advice pages, which will help you do your bit for the planet by making sure all the hazardous materials you need are used correctly, and kept out of harms’ way in the correct chemical storage cabinets when they’re not needed.

Most chemicals and other hazardous materials are covered by the COSHH – Control of Substances Hazardous to Health – regulations, which we show on our advice pages. There are a number of COSHH cabinets in our product range, all designed to comply with the relevant legislation. Details of each of which can be found on the individual product pages.

A really helpful step-by-step guide to implementing the COSHH regulations is part of our advice pages here.

Picture: Gajus via Dreamstime

How storing hazardous substances correctly can avert disaster

Storing hazardous substances correctly is vital to protect people, premises and the environment. Having the appropriate hazardous material storage cabinets and gas cylinder storage arrangements will keep chemicals safely in their place. Safety Storage Centre discusses the regulations and highlights products to help you make sure your premises comply with the law.

Chemicals are everywhere. They support life as we know it in the 21st century, from the ones prescribed by our doctors to the ones used by companies to make the products we buy every day.

And therein lies a very real danger, perfectly captured in the old adage ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. Although chemicals – let’s call them hazardous substances – are all around us, if they are mistreated or gas bottle storagemishandled they will turn on us in an instant.

That’s a lesson learned by thousands of people when a warehouse caught fire, and they had to be evacuated from their homes. Here’s what was happening:

  • Flames shooting through holes in the roof
  • Drums of solvents exploding in intense heat
  • Exploding drums fired, like missiles, several hundred feet into the air
  • Flying, burning drum crashed through the roof of another building, setting it alight
  • Large cloud of at least 11 noxious gases created

Although the cause of that fire was never conclusively identified, it is thought to have related to leakage of a corrosive substance onto organic materials. Ill-advised storage of chemicals did the rest.

Storing hazardous substances

And that’s why the Health and Safety Executive, in advising about the segregation of hazardous materials, includes ‘human factor’ elements that can cause issues, including:

  • Incompetence
  • A poorly-skilled workforce
  • Location of premises
  • Poor internal layout of premises
  • Lack of understanding about the substances being stored and handled
  • Ignorance of what happens if they’re mixed
  • Poor labelling

Legislation and codes of practice about storing chemicals, summarised by the HSE in the document referred to above, have a degree of complexity, but that’s no excuse for shying away from them.

You’ll also need to know about Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations as they affect your industry, and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002.

There’s more easily understood information in our advice centre, and all product pages provide the reassurance of making you aware what legislation they comply with – or even exceed. However, useful extra information is to be found in this at-a-glance compatibility chart for hazardous substance storage to what can and can’t be stored together.

In this chart plus signs [+] means chemicals can share storage, bracketed plus signs [(+)] means they can, but with restrictions, and minus signs (-) means they may not be stored together. If you’re in even the slightest doubt, the best advice is to store them separately.

Choosing hazardous storage cabinets

So now you have an idea of the ‘what’ of storing hazardous substances, let’s look at the ‘how’. Hazardous substance storage cabinets fall into a series of broad groups, based on what needs to be stored. Within each of those groups are other options, allowing for wall mounting, floor standing or mobility – the latter includes an option from Flambank which is on castors, and a van-mounted version from Flamstor.

All are also correctly labelled and coloured to show the nature of the specific materials they contain. Fire protection cabinets are yellow; pesticide ones are red, and acid/alkali cabinets are white.

Choosing gas cylinder storage

Fires turn gas bottles into bombs. Extra heat builds extra pressure so that makes them prone to explode, blasting pieces of shrapnel for considerable distances.

The way to prevent this happening is to keep them in fireproof gas cylinder cabinets. We offer two models, both very well engineered and practical, but including impressive safety features. With fire ratings of up to 90 minutes, they provide ample opportunity for evacuation of premises and time for firefighters to arrive to make the situation safe.

Storing hazardous substances is a serious responsibility. Visit www.safetystoragecentre.co.uk to find advice and products to assist you in meeting your responsibilities.

The minimalist guide to safe chemical storage

Correct chemical storage is simple and straightforward, isn’t it? Some chemicals can safely share the same store; others can never do so – right? Wrong.

As with so many things in life, the answers about chemical storage aren’t completely black and white. Grey areas arise in the case of anything labelled ‘harmful’ or ‘irritant’. These two groups can share the same store only if special arrangements are made. Erring on the side of caution is probably best, so keeping them apart is probably the way forward.

But that begs the question: “Are you certain you know which chemicals can be stored with which?” For example, is it OK to store anything labelled ‘toxic’ and ‘explosive’ in the same store, or ‘toxic’ and ‘harmful’, or ‘explosive’ and ‘corrosive’? For the record, the answers are no, yes and no.
Chemical Storage Cabinets
To take away any uncertainty about how to store chemicals safely, we have an at-a-glance chemical compatibility storage chart you’ll find really useful. It’s an instant reference using traffic light colours to tell you at a glance which category of chemicals are suitable storage bedfellows, and which aren’t.

And in the going, we’d draw your attention to the text panel at the bottom of the chart. In summary, the message is this: If you store organic acids (like Acetic or Formic) with common mineral acids (Sulphuric and Nitric), you’re setting up the potential for fire and explosion, so don’t do it – but organic acids are generally safe to store with flammables or solvents…