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Van vaults will defy the thief and protect your valuable tools

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We’ve all read the sticker on the rear door of white vans up and down the country: ‘No tools are stored in this vehicle overnight’ – but the amount of equipment in question means it’s as likely as not that the sticker isn’t telling the whole truth…

After a hard day at work, removing a great many valuable pieces of equipment, only to have to re-load them again the following morning, adds time and the unwelcome need for extra effort at both ends of the working day.

But the tools of so many trades in the 21st century are such that they can no longer be carried in a simple canvas hold all. Furthermore, they are expensive to buy and replace, and often represent the viability of the business. The solution is to invest in tool vaults to fit inside your van, allowing valuables to be locked away as safe as they would be in a building.

Everything in our range of effective and low-cost secure vehicle storageVan Vault products is made from the highest-quality materials. There are a number of options available to suit all sorts of applications. Many of them are available with free delivery, and can be with you in a matter of a few days.

How safe is your vital data when it’s in the cloud?

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Fireproof Data SafeThe current push to ‘cloud computing’ and storing vital personal and company data ‘in the cloud’ encourages us to ignore one simple but very important truth – the cloud has a physical location.

And because it has a physical location, the sophisticated IT arrangements to which you entrust company information and old wedding photographs is arguably at as much of a risk as whatever storage arrangements you might have on your own premises, if you’re thorough. The cyber-risk could be even greater, because it’s highly likely that as you read this, somewhere in the world a member of the hacking community is working to breach the security of whichever data centre holds your information.

As the amount of data held expands exponentially – its is forecast to at least triple in the next three years – not only will the prize for the potential hacker grow in perceived value, but the chances of some kind of IT ‘hiccup’ will also grow. Furthermore, a recent study has suggested that your cloud-stored data may not be immune from being seen by others using the same provider. However, this blog is intended to highlight not cyber-threat potential, but physical problems facing ever-larger data centres, and to suggest some advice as a result.

It’s not necessarily malicious attacks that we should consider. Employees, who are as human as the rest of us, make mistakes. Natural disasters like flooding and earthquakes can happen, power supplies can be interrupted, fluctuating temperatures (and IT can generate lots of heat) can cause problems.

Best then, as a business, to audit a data centre just as you would audit any other business service, or have a specialist do it for you. They would check all manner of things, no doubt based on the EU Code of Conduct for Best Practice in Data Centres, and looking for:

• ISO accreditations
• business continuity management to BS25999-2:2007
• the payment card industry’s PCI-DSS
• IL3 status for governmental systems
• power and temperature readings
• disaster recovery capability
• hardware efficiency
• thermal capacity
• airflow management
• physical security

All of which serves to highlight the level of risk faced by data centres, and by association, your data. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be using data centres for storage. However, we do need to be aware of any potential shortcomings, and to think of the sentiments of a man with no experience of data centres whatsoever; American inventor Benjamin Franklin. He said that distrust and caution were the parents of security. It’s the same thinking behind the phrase ‘belt and braces’ that we’re all familiar with.

And on that basis, perhaps you should be thinking of backing up business data and treasured family pictures and documents on your own secure storage device, and keeping it in a locked fireproof filing cabinet, as well as on the cloud? Software is readily available today that will do the backing up for you, quietly and in the background, throughout the time your computers are running. Large amounts of storage are found on stand-alone devices smaller than a paperback book, and therefore easily capable of being tucked into secure fireproof data safes or home safes. With two potential sources of recoverable data, there would be no need to worry about any loss of data, which would all be secure and to hand whatever the eventuality.

How to store firearms and shotguns securely

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Gun CabinetLaws covering the storage of firearms, shotguns and their ammunition are as strict as those covering their ownership, having been designed to keep weapons out of the wrong hands. Making sure the storage of all kinds of firearms and shotguns is properly secure places strict requirements on their owners, as you’ll see in our guide to storage of firearms.

In summary, the Firearms Rules (1998) say weapons must be stored securely to prevent them being taken or used by ‘unauthorised people’, with a penalty of up to six months in prison for failure to comply.

An ‘unauthorised person’ is anyone without a gun licence or shotgun certificate, no matter how responsible and trustworthy they might otherwise appear to be. The rules do not specify precisely what ‘stored securely’ means, but here we can take advice from the Home Office, which recommends locked gun cabinets, gun safes or similar secure containers, and includes a gun room or cellar in its list of acceptable options.

When buying a gun cabinet, it’s important to be sure that it is up to the standards required by the relevant British Standard – BS7558:1992. If it is then acceptance by the Police is guaranteed, subject to meeting the requirements of the Firearms Act of 1968 and subsequent amendments.

How to safeguard vital documents from water and fire

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According to the Federation of Small Businesses, every company affected by flooding will already have faced increased costs in the order of about £1,500 –and that’s before any clean-up and restoration work.

Water and Fireproof SafeThat’s a large burden for any company, which might already have been struggling before any flooding it had to face. But have you considered how your business would cope when faced with unexpected business disruption, like flood or fire? In some cases firms could well not survive the damage to premises if they were associated with irretrievable loss of vital documents too.

Businesses and homes alike should be set up to cope with the worst-case scenario to safeguard valuable documents. From customer contact details, to invoices, orders, accreditation documents, manuals, price lists and brochures – they are all equally vulnerable. At home, personal papers and photographs face the same risk, with the added emotional dimension. Much paperwork is done electronically these days – but how many businesses religiously back up files, and don’t paper copies?

When fire or flood strike, there is a way of minimising damage using an appropriate waterproof and fireproof storage solution. Hard copies of vital documents, as well as precious objects, can be given invaluable protection against fire and flood by storing them in suitable water and fireproof safes.
• Have you saved vital documents because of fireproof or waterproof storage? We’d like to hear your story.

Is it time you did a COSHH assessment?

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The law uses the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations to define how businesses must control substances that could be hazardous to the health of employees, their colleagues, of the wider community. The regulations, in their latest form, have been in place since 2002, so a quick refresher is sure to be helpful. It may reveal that the measures you have in place are out of date. Products change constantly, as manufacturers making improvements to existing products and introduce new ones.

What substances are covered?
These come in many forms, and include chemicals, products containing chemicals, fumes, dust, vapours, mists, gases, biological agents (germs) and nanotechnology. Specifically not covered, because they have their own regulations, are lead, asbestos and radioactive substances.

I’m self-employed. Does this apply to me?
Certainly. If you have employees, it all applies to you. If you don’t, but take hazardous substances onto other people’s premises, it all applies to you except for monitoring and health surveillance.

Things to think about before doing a COSHH assessment
What do we do that involves hazardous chemicals?
What harm can these substances cause?
How can we reduce the risk of harm?

COSHH CabinetsAre we using the right chemicals in the right form?
The range of available products is always evolving, so just because a product was the right one ten years ago doesn’t mean it’s still the best option. Manufacturers may have developed less toxic options, or more controllable forms. For example:
Can we avoid using a hazardous substance?
Does a water-based option exist?
Could we brush it on, instead of spraying it?
Could we vacuum things clean, capturing dust, rather than using a brush?
Does the chemical come in a ‘safer’ form? (a solid rather than a liquid, for instance) Keep an eye on the trade press, or talk to others at trade fairs or exhibitions.

Do I have to provide Personal Protective Equipment?
Yes. Employers must provide it for all employees, and replace it when necessary. It must be worn when all other measures are inadequate to control exposure. Advice about what is suitable is available from suppliers, manufacturers or trade associations. You must also instruct employees about how it is to be worn to make sure it is fit for purpose. It’s best to make it as comfortable as possible to ensure employees are prepared to wear it.

Are there exposure limits?
About 500 substances, of the thousands in use in industry, are covered by very specific workplace exposure limits.

What are COSHH Data sheets?
These are information about the substances you use, and describe the hazards presented by the chemicals they refer to, as well as handling and storage recommendations. It’s important to note that a COSHH data sheet is not a risk assessment. The information on the sheet should be used as part of a risk assessment.

Do I need to tell employees about these chemicals?
Yes. All employees working with, or close to, chemicals covered by the regulations need to have the information. They have a right to know the hazards, exposure limits, result of monitoring, health surveillance, and what to do in an emergency. And if you change or add a chemical, they need to be told abut that too.

Where can I find out more?
The Health & Safety Executive is a superb source of information. Visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/index.htm and http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/index.htm

Why safe storage is vital for chemicals

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A welder has spent a week in hospital and needed skin grafts after seven litres of acetone he was using to quench a hot work piece caught fire and caused serious burns to his legs. The subsequent Health and Safety Executive investigation revealed that the bowl in question had been used for the purpose for almost 30 years, even though it was intended only for degreasing, and the company in question had 600 litres of acetone on its premises.

Hazardous Substance StorageThe HSE inspectors’ findings could be a useful wake-up call to other companies. They identified numerous issues with the company’s safety management system, which resulted in the serving of three Improvement Notices requiring changes to be made. Following the incident, and in order to comply with the Notices, safe storage solutions in the form of smaller, sealed containers were introduced for storing acetone for welders to use. Acetone is highly flammable, and has a flash point of 20ºC.

HSE inspector John Caboche said afterwards: “The standards governing the use of highly flammable liquids are well established and well known in industry, so it is difficult to comprehend how a company could mistakenly believe that leaving an open bowl of acetone seemingly unchecked for a prolonged period – in this case several decades – was acceptable. The incident demonstrates the importance of actively managing health and safety, and following health and safety advice and guidance where appropriate. The use of flammable liquids must be properly risk assessed and controlled in industrial environments.”

If you’re confused about which safe storage solution you need for a particular chemical, you could be forgiven, because there are a number of regulations you’ll have to comply with. However, at the Safety Storage Centre we understand the legislation, and would be pleased to guide you through it, either in a phone call or using our live chat facility. Alternatively visit the Safety Storage Centre advice page for more information.

Why not to use petrol to start a fire

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News of another fire tragedy hit the headlines last week when a man died after being engulfed by flames when “priming” a bonfire with petrol. Some may view using petrol as an accelerant as reckless but my guess is that many people have done exactly the same without fully understanding the dangers.

COSHH CabinetSPetrol evaporates quickly when exposed to air which is why petrol and other flammable fuels and chemicals should always be stored in an air tight container. We all know that petrol is highly flammable but just how flammable is revealed by its flashpoint. The flash point is an indication of how easy a chemical may burn. Materials with higher flash points are less flammable or hazardous than chemicals with lower flash points. Petrol has a flashpoint of -45 Degrees Centigrade – the minus sign is not a mistake – so petrol will basically ignite at any temperature found in the UK.

What is less understood is the auto ignition temperature i.e. the minimum temperature required to ignite a flammable gas or vapour in air without a spark or flame being present.  For petrol the figure is around 280 Degrees Centigrade which is far less than the temperature of a naked flame.

When you pour petrol on a bonfire the fuel begins to evaporate. As a rule if you can smell it you are effectively stood in an invisible cloud of potentially flammable gas. The molecules in the gas are also invasive and will stick to clothing turning you into a tinder box. Once the concentration of gas in the air reaches a certain level termed the flammable range lighting a match or introducing other sources of heat will cause an explosion.

For this reason flammable liquids should always be stored in an enclosed air tight container in a purpose made COSHH Cabinets to prevent the build-up of explosive gases and protect the contents from accidental exposure to sources of heat.

Never use any flammable fuel to start a fire not even diesel or oil. Firelighters work out a good deal cheaper than car fuel and are very effective and most importantly safe.

Your Holiday Security Essentials

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Although the fickle weather is again contradicting the seasons, our great British summer and the holiday season is barely a week away. Whether you are loading up the car or heading for the airport make sure you have left your home safe from intruders by taking sensible precautions.
Our community police liaison officer and the neighbourhood watch have issued some good advice to minimise the risks both home and away. Go through the checklist before you travel.

191a – Cancel newspapers, milk and any other regular deliveries.

– Turn off the water supply and unplug all but essential electrical appliances.

– If you have an intruder alarm make sure you activate it before you travel. Preferably leave the alarm activation code and a house key with someone near to your home who you trust in case of emergencies.

– Lock the windows

– Let someone know you itinerary and give a contact number. You can also inform the police when you are away or if you have one, inform your Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator.

– Put valuables in a safe place preferably in a home safe with bolt down capability or in a good quality strongbox again fixed to a solid structure and out of sight. Move any other valuables such as ornaments out of plain sight.

– Secure any outbuildings with quality locks or padlocks and preferably lock expensive tools and equipment away in a secure steel tool chest or cabinet.

– Don’t take expensive jewellery on holiday if at all possible. If you must have your bling with you then hire a safe deposit box at your resort accommodation. You should also check your travel insurance cover is adequate.

– Carry as little cash as you can. The prepaid currency cards are a practical alternative and can be used like any other debit card, including making cash withdrawals from foreign ATM’s. You can usually get a better exchange rate into the bargain.

– If travelling by car don’t leave valuable in plain sight, particularly when the vehicle is unattended. Opportunist thefts from vehicles in service stations are common so lock valuables in the boot or glove compartment.

– Finally make sure you have the contact numbers should an emergency arise whilst you are away i.e. Insurance Help Line, Bank and Credit Card provider, Holiday Accommodation and Flight Provider.
Have a happy and relaxed holiday

Choosing Hazardous substance storage cabinets

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When you first look at the vast range of hazardous storage cabinets you may be forgiven for asking why so many and what’s the difference. On the face of it all the cabinets are COSHH compliant i.e they meet the basic requirements of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations so why not go for a basic COSHH cabinet rather than the substance specific options for flammables, pesticides and acid and alkali’s?

The first question to answer is what specific types and how much of these hazardous substances do you have to secure to comply with COSHH legislation. Secondly you need to be aware of the dangers of storing incompatible substances in the same cabinet. Acids do not go with alkali’s and flammables should be segregated from all other hazards. Aggressive and toxic chemicals such as systemic agricultural pesticides are a direct hazard to health and are subject to additional controls, some requiring licences to store and use. In extreme cases, particularly involving bio hazards specialist cabinets to BS EN14470-1 may be required.

The substance specific cabinets offer more protection and are not just different coloured versions of the same cabinet. Flammable storage cabinets have deep spill tray shelves and deep sumps with welded seams to prevent leakage. Rebated doors prevent accidental exposure to naked flames. An Acid and Alkali cabinet has similar features but are made from Zintec steel for added corrosion resistance. Pesticide Storage cabinets also feature additional louvred ventilation to prevent the build-up of toxic fumes and have galvanised steel rather than powder coated shelves. Of course all the cabinets have hazard specific corrosion resistant powder coated finish, quality key locking for access control and security and hazard specific warning labels.

For those storing hazardous substances on site the different colour coded finishes provide a further benefit in an emergency – particularly a fire emergency – as irrespective of the warning label the fire and rescue services can quickly identify at a distance the type and location of any hazardous materials present. Storing different types of hazardous substances in the same anonymous Cabinet is a hazard in itself so assess the risks carefully and make the right safety choices.

Preventing thefts through secure storage

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Thanks to the time and effort expended by a large number of public spirited residents we have a very active Neighbourhood Watch scheme operating in my area. Trouble is that it appears to do little to deter both the opportunistic and more organised thieves who of late have become more brazen often operating in broad daylight under the noses of residents. With no town gas supply, not surprisingly the most frequent thefts involve stealing home heating oil, but recently there has been a notable rise in thefts of grass mowers and power tools from outbuildings. The thieves probably calculate a ready market exists for their ill-gotten gains as spring approaches.
Insurance will ease the pain but standard policy excesses and loss of no claims bonuses can still leave you hundreds of pounds out of pocket. So what can you do?


Obviously don’t leave out buildings and sheds unlocked or leave windows open. The objective is to put as many security barriers in place as possible to foil the sneak thief and deter the more determined and better equipped criminal. Fit quality locks or padlocks and if possible steel lock covers to prevent access with bolt cutters. You can also buy anti-jemmy door hinges for a few pounds. If you have very expensive equipment like generators and ride on mowers consider extending your home security alarm. These days modern technology means this can be done wirelessly.
If despite your best efforts thieves do gain entry all is not lost (literally). My own mower is chained to the wall using two 15mm eyebolts. As for power tools and other expensive equipment the answer is to lock these away in a secure steel cabinet or tool vault. Depending on the size the Probe Industrial cabinet range provides security for lower value items. For added security you can utilise the heavy duty Oxbox or Tuffbank van boxes made from heavy gauge steel plate that have bolt down features and anti-jemmy lids.
Spending a couple of hundred pounds to safeguard against theft is worthwhile when balanced against the cost and hassle of replacement. The police also advise that thieves will return time and again to properties they consider easy prey so now is the time to be proactive so you don’t become a victim.

 

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