Safe storage, handling and transfer of hazardous materials is key to reducing chemical accidents and dangerous mixtures of incompatible materials. Close storage of incompatible chemicals could create a risk of fire, explosion, or release of toxic gases and fumes. Storage locations should be according to fire code, have proper fire protection and are structurally appropriate.
The Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) and Risk Management Program (RMP) General Duty Clause requires owners and operators of facilities that have any extremely hazardous substances to manage their chemicals safely and develop safety precaution such as instituting maintenance, monitoring, and employee training.
When visiting hazardous material facilities, indicators of a well-maintained storage area are:
- Visible and clearly legible labels.
- Storing like chemicals with like chemicals.
- Safety alarms/interlocks and secondary containments are in proper working order.
- Facilities have policies on hazardous material storage, handling, disposal, maintenance and monitoring in place.
- Warnings and cautions for process chemicals and consequences for process deviations are clearly visible.
- Employees are aware of chemical and reactive hazards, access to safety data sheets and emergency plans.
- Tanks, pipes and valves are clearly labeled with chemical content; valves are locked and only accessible by authorized employees.
EPA Management of Hazardous Chemicals at Chemical Warehousing and Chemical Distribution Facilities – An hour training video focused on managing chemicals safely, securely, and in compliance with federal programs for Chemical Warehousing and Chemical Distribution Facilities.
EPA Risks of Improper Storage of Hazardous Chemicals – Common compliance concerns and actions chemical storage facilities must take to operate in a safe manner.
EPA Risk Management Program Guidance for Warehouses – General Risk Management Program Guidance
Hazmat Worst Case Tool – NCEM offers PEAC-WEB application software for emergency managers and local responders. Facility information include reactivity summaries, threat matrixes and hazard matrixes to compare against facility storage.
NIH Chemical Storage Compatibility Chart – Covers chemical segregation, storage recommendations and possible mixture reactions based on chemical classification.
NIOSH Guide to Chemical Hazards – Informs workers, employers, and occupational health professionals about workplace chemicals and their hazards.
NOAA CAMEO Chemicals – Free chemical reactivity worksheets are available to determine chemical compatibility.
NFPA 400 Hazardous Materials Code – Fundamental safeguards for the storage, use, and handling of hazardous materials for all occupations and facilities.
NFPA 490 Storage of Ammonium Nitrate Code – Fundamental safeguards for storage of ammonium nitrate in the form of crystals, flakes, grains, or prills.
OSHA Hazardous Materials 1910 Subpart H – Covers storage and location, container, and inspection requirements for compressed gases, flammable liquids, liquified petroleum gases and anhydrous ammonia.
OSHA Hazard Communication 1910.1200 – The hazard communication program includes hazardous chemical container labeling, safety data sheets (SDSs), and training for workers.