Why safe storage is vital for chemicals

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.