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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

What Grandma learned from Benjamin Franklin about safe storage

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Familiarity can breed contempt when it comes to storing hazardous substances in the workplace. Doing it right requires not only the right equipment, but also the right understanding of the risks involved by everyone on the premises. Safety Storage Centre explains…

A place for everything, and everything in its place; that’s what Grandma always used to say. Well, mine did, at least. We tend to think of Grandmas as the fount of all wisdom, and so often they are, but in this instance she’d pinched the thought from that great 18th-century American innovator Benjamin Franklin.

It was a piece of wisdom Franklin needed; his life was busier than most. He was an author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, and diplomat. His life would have been chaos if he hadn’t been tidy!

Grandma was encouraging tidiness so her house didn’t look a mess – but it’s a trait that, on a serious note, helps us to keep modern workplaces safe.

‘Things’ in our lives are more numerous than they were in Franklin’s lifetime 300 years ago (and Grandma’s, much more recently). We have inventions neither of them could have imagined, and that includes the dangerous substances forming part of our everyday lives.

Storing hazardous substances safely

Because they’re so familiar, we can forget just how dangerous some of these substances are when they are mishandled or stored incorrectly. This is where we should recall the ‘place for everything’ thought, because part of preventing harm is the way, and the place, these substances are stored.

It starts with the immediate container for any substance, which should never be decanted into another container. We’ve all read the stories about children drinking from pop bottles in to which toxic liquids have been poured – and the horrible consequences. Original bottles and drums have all manner of important warning information on them, which should stay with the contents. That’s why the activity in our picture is wrong on so many levels. Storing drinking water in a petrol can is as foolhardy as storing fuel in a lemonade bottle, and should never be done.

Then where should these substances be kept?

Examination of the COSHH regulations is a good place to start. COSHH stands for Control of Substances Hazardous to Health, and is legislation enacted in 1988 and revised in 2002. COSHH essentials is a guide produced by the Health and Safety Executive, and includes information about safe practices for storing hazardous substances in all facilities, but especially where vulnerable people such as children the elderly and adults with learning difficulties could conceivably come into contact with them.

The counter to these dangers is the use of purpose-designed storage for hazardous substances in the workplace – COSHH cabinets

Hazardous Chemicals

What is a COSHH cabinet?

COSHH cabinets contain hazardous substances in the workplace in two ways. Firstly, they are robust and lockable, to prevent unauthorized people from getting at the chemicals inside, and secondly, their design includes spill containment to prevent the chemicals from getting out. Careful control of the keys ensures that only responsible people have access to the contents.

The cabinets are perfect for use in a multitude of diverse locations where storing hazardous substances in the workplace is unavoidable – think of the cleaning products needed in every school, for example.

Which COSHH cabinet?

Deciding on which COSHH cabinet – or indeed any kind of safe storage cabinet – is about what you need to store, and how much of them there are. The volumes of some substances, of course, are limited by rules and regulations that describe safe practices for storing hazardous substances.

More information about what you want to store is to be found in the HSE information mentioned above, the DSEAR 2002 regulations, or the HSG51 guidance about storage of flammable liquids. Look out for spill containment capability, and decide if the cabinet you need should be free-standing, wall mounted, or on wheels, capable of being taken to the location in which the substances inside are to be used. There are circumstances in which any of these would be the most appropriate.

What else do I need to do?

Substances sealed in their original containers pose little or no danger. It’s only when they are put in the wrong place or used in the wrong way that the danger levels increase, and that’s down to people.

Every individual’s behaviour can turn a safely stored substance into a hazard, so it’s important that everyone has some degree of training. At its most basic level it’s about awareness that the substances are there, and that they should be avoided. (In a school, for example, pupils just need to know that the caretaker’s cupboard is out of bounds and that they’re not allowed in).

Training will be more for people who need to work with the substances. They’ll need to know the correct method of handling them, what personal protective clothing must be worn, and where they must be used (in a fume cupboard, perhaps, or at least a well-ventilated space). They’ll also need to know where they can be stored, and with what other substances – if they’re allowed to be stored with anything else at all.

So it seems Ben Franklin and Grandma were right after all. Everything does have a place, and should be kept in it, for everyone’s safety.

Initially, think of what’s most important

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Brevity created by shortening formal names into shorthand versions using their initials holds a danger that the purpose behind them can be lost. Pausing to think about what lies behind the initials, and why it’s there, is a useful way to remind yourself of their importance. We use the COSHH Regulations to illustrate the point.

BBC, PPE, MOT, and BLT; the verbal shorthand of our language is everywhere. By and large we know what it means. Take the four sets of initials we started with. You don’t even have to think about them, since the abbreviated form has become the accepted norm.

But there can be a danger with these verbal short cuts that the reality gets lost through over-familiarity, which as we all know, breeds contempt.

Take COSHH, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (2002), to give them their full title.

The role of COSHH

The purpose of COSHH legislation is to allow the use of hazardous substances in the workplace, but to spell out rules for the way they are used and stored in order to protect employees and the environment from the harm they could potentially cause.

And with that in mind, we’d like to offer an alternative set of words to attach to the COSHH acronym: Come and See me Here in Hospital. Thinking of that provides a reminder of what might be necessary in the event of too casual an attitude being adopted to materials covered by the legislation. With that in mind, we’d like to sharpen the focus on the regulations, and the implication for your employees – in order to avoid you having to exercise the hospital option…

Who’s covered by COSHH regulations

It would be a mistake to think of this legislation as being about ‘industry’ in the traditional sense. The Regulations are plain: the people being protected are ‘workers’, and in this case that means all employees, no matter what their job role, as well as university students and schoolchildren. Equally, everyone is covered, including visitors and people on placements, for example. In short, there’s a requirement to protect everyone close to a hazardous substance.

What substances come under the scope of COSHH regulations?

Oddly, no specific substances are mentioned in the legislation, though some are specifically excluded*. This is an indication of just how broad-reaching the legislation is, since it applies to types of substances: Chemicals, or products they’re found in, along with fumes, dust, vapours, gases, and even bacteria, are all covered. Consequently, the actual substances people must be protected from are extremely numerous.

* Radioactive materials, asbestos, and lead are sufficiently noxious to have their own specific legislation, so aren’t covered by COSHH rules.

How to assess my workplace risks

You’ll need to do a formal COSHH assessment. Things to look out for vary between locations as well as by processes. The Health and Safety Executive offers a very helpful selection of sample assessments to guide you through the assessment relating to your own situation – or one very much like it. Advice is offered about how to remove things you can do without, or control access to things that must stay.

Be thorough. There’s no doubt a list of substances that need to stay will be highlighted as hazardous in your COSHH assessment, and that means that the range of available protection, in the form of COSHH cabinets, comes in all shapes and sizes.

Always Seek Knowledge

Tell me about COSHH cabinets

The substances covered by the COSHH Regulations will usually dictate the most appropriate storage solution. A range of COSHH Cabinets offered by the Safety Storage Centre is designed specifically with COSHH compliance in mind, but the web site also offers one of the largest range of haz-chem cabinets on the web, and one of those might serve your COSHH needs equally well.

Wherever you buy your COSHH cabinet from, you’ll need to look and ask yourself these questions, and factor the answers into your buying decision:

• Is it the right size for what I need to store?
• Does it comply with COSHH and DSEAR regulations?
• Does is have a sump to catch spills?
• Is it made from strong material, using robust construction methods?
• Can the contents be segregated?
• Should I have a keyed or combination lock?
• Does it need to be fixed, or mobile?
• Does it have a smoke detector? Do I need one?

There’s much more to the COSHH regulations than can be covered in this blog, including a wealth of industry-specific information and guidance, available on the HSE web site. If you’re unsure, then ask. Safety Storage Centre staff are knowledgeable and helpful.

The knowledge dimension

Earlier I spoke about familiarity breeding contempt. This is arguably more true anywhere else than in dealing with hazardous chemicals. Because people using them have done so safely for long periods of time there is a danger that they can become immune to the hazards they are handling. And yet the dangers inherent in the substances are never diminished. It is therefore vital for everyone to be trained not only to understand what those hazards are, but also that they have a responsibility to use and store the materials correctly.

Keep workers safe

And finally remember that time spent in making sure you comply with the letter as well as the spirit of the COSHH Regulations will keep workers safe, and there will be no need to spend time hospital visiting or dealing with HSE inquiries into accidents.

A gram of prevention is equal to a kilo of cure.

Dark nights: You’d be surprised at what people will steal…

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‘Set a thief to catch a thief’ is an old adage, and like lots of old wives’ tales, contains a grain of truth. If thieves will steal a garden wall and dig up lots of daffodil bulbs, there’s nothing they’ll stop at. That’s why it makes sense to think like a thief to beat a thief. Safety Storage Centre will show you how…

It’s funny how things stick in your mind. I recall the newspaper article that recorded how a homeowner had built a low brick wall outside his terraced home, only to wake the following morning and discover it had been stolen. Every coping stone and brick had been taken away. But it wasn’t the audacity of the theft that I remember the article for; it was the homeowner’s comment:

I suppose it’s my own fault; I shouldn’t have left it outside!”*

His tongue was very clearly in his cheek when he said it, but that doesn’t detract from what he said. Thieves are very often opportunists, and will prey on trusting souls who, because they’re honest, expect everyone to be the same. Sadly, that’s not even close to the truth. The opportunist thief will steal now and think about what to do with his ill-gotten gains later.

Earlier this month Humberside Police issued a warning to motorists about not leaving their car keys on view near open windows and doors. A spokesman said:

Offenders have either been able to enter properties through open windows and doors before stealing car keys, or have, in some cases, forced entry to obtain car keys.

Once the keys are gone, the car won’t be there for long afterwards.

And at midnight on October 24th the threat grows greater as British Summer Time ends and darkness, the criminal’s great ally, falls far sooner. And it would be unwise to ignore it – the true cost of crime for householders and businesses could be as much as £800m, according to a nationwide survey.

Home Safety

How to beat the thief on dark nights

So how do you beat the ‘thief in the night’? My answer would be ‘think ahead’, and think like a thief. Only by doing that will you be able to eliminate the opportunities they thrive on.

Look for weak points. Imagine you were a thief. How easy would it be to get in and steal something? Here are six of the best ways to protect yourself, though you’ll no doubt think of others of your own. Adopting these six strategies will go a long way to making your home and business more thief-proof

1. Change your mindset: Don’t leave things lying around. Children’s toys, garden tools, your own bike are all ‘fair game’ to thieves. Put them out of sight in the garage behind a locked door. Encourage other family members to do the same. It’s a good life lesson for the children too. Businesses need the same approach; don’t leave valuables in the yard; bring them inside.

2. Lock it or lose it: Get good stout padlocks locks and hasps. Consider bars at shed or garage windows Better still, if your garage is a new build, have it built without windows at all, as a friend of mine did. There can be no forced entry through a window that doesn’t exist!

3. Protect things in vans: Who believes the sticker on the side of the van that says ‘no tools are left in this vehicle overnight? Modern trades require heaps of expensive tools, and they very often are left in vans. Building in a van box to a van will make sure valuables cant be taken. (Great against opportunist thieves when the van’s out on a job during a winter afternoon; remember that it can start getting dark at about 3pm in the depths of winter)

4. Hold back the night, turn on the lights: Those are lyrics of a song by The Trammps. They weren’t written about security for your home and business, but could well have been. If darkness is the thief’s friend, take it away from him with a security lighting regime. PIR sensors make lighting effective throughout the hours of darkness, the costs are relatively low, and the sudden shock of a light coming on may well scare off a would-be thief.

5. Multi-layer your security: Don’t rely on only one piece of security. Take the Police car key warning earlier in this blog. The lessons from that are that you should not only lock your doors and windows, but should not leave keys – or other valuables – close by them. At night, for example, what’s to stop your keys from going into your bedroom with you? They’d be safer there than on a shelf or windowsill inside the door.

6. Consider a safe: Durable, high-quality safes for home use, as well as business, don’t have to cost the earth these days. There are even models using the latest biometric technology to lock them, and these are large enough for home and small business use.

*This really is a true story…

For more information on safety storage solutions to protect your assets and valuables visit www.safetystoragecentre.co.uk

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

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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

How to avoid shooting yourself in the foot by shooting yourself in the foot – physically and metaphorically

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These game shooting tips are about far more than safe gun handling, though that’s vital at all times. They’re intended to give you an insight into how to behave at what’s essentially a social event to get the most out of it. Safety Storage Centre has tapped into expert knowledge of the Countryside Alliance and top gunsmith Purdey for this brief beginner’s guide to shooting.

The story of a man having to learn to walk all over again after shooting himself in the foot is the perfect illustration of what happens when firearms aren’t handled correctly.

It could have been a lot worse; he might have shot or even killed the friend who was with him on the crow-shooting expedition – but it could have been a lot better if he’d followed all the safety rules and shot no-one at all.

The destructive power of every kind of gun is why there are strict rules about their handling, use, and storage – because if something can go wrong, it will.

Now’s a good time to highlight the right way to handle and use firearms, because the arrival of August brings with it the first of the opening days for game shooting seasons, and with them, perhaps novice shooters joining the million-strong UK shooting fraternity and trying the sport for the first time.

Game Shooting

Game shooting tips

Novices will no doubt be well advised by more experienced people, but it’s worth pointing out that there are numerous codes of good shooting practice, brought together in the Code of Good Shooting Practice guide published by the Countryside Alliance. They’re immensely detailed, covering every imaginable aspect of the sport, but at their heart are basic safety rules detailing how to behave with a gun in your hand. They’re made simple so they’re easily understood.

• Never carry a loaded gun
• Always treat a gun as if it’s loaded (even though you know it isn’t)
• Never point a gun at anyone
• Never carry a gun with your finger on the trigger
• Never have a loaded gun in your car
• In the case of shotguns, they should be ‘broken’ to show they’re empty and incapable of being fired
• Always use the safety catch
• Load the gun only when you’re going to fire it
• Never shoot unless you have a clear view of the target – and you’re sure there’s nothing behind it
• If you’re not sure, don’t shoot
• When shooting game be sure of a humane kill – it’s not a competition
• When your gun is not in use store it away in an approved gun cabinet

Game shooting etiquette

Top gunsmith Purdey says the essence of field etiquette is very simple, and is about being safe and sporting, adding:

“You will find that most of the unwritten rules are merely a logical means of shooting safely, and with pleasure for all.”

The Purdey web site shooting etiquette section also advises that anyone invited to a day’s driven game shooting shouldn’t turn up without ever having fired a gun, but should have lessons first. The right clothes are important too. It might seem obvious to mention it, but you need to be warm and dry, and have unrestricted movement. There are also good tips about making sure you know where you’re going – urging that you don’t rely on satnavs (shoot locations might be down tracks they can’t see) or mobile phones (you’re in the country; there’s every likelihood of poor reception). The shoot is unlikely to wait for a latecomer!

Much more information about shooting is available on the Countryside Alliance web site.

Seven rules for safe storage of Highly Flammable Liquids

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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

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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

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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

 

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