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

Choosing Hazardous substance storage cabinets

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.