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  • Dale Allen

COSHH - How to Store Chemicals

Updated: May 4, 2020

Proper COSHH storage method and placement should be dictated by your risk


This article will explain the correct procedures for COSHH storage, including:

  • Eliminating and reducing risk when storing COSHH regulated products,

  • When and how to properly ventilate,

  • How to properly secure COSHH storage areas.

If there has been no previous risk assessment taken, or it requires review, then it is necessary to undertake a risk assessment to ensure the safe handling and storage of the hazardous substances in question.

COSHH storage with regards to work circumstances and the risk involved

Risk assessments must make certain that the storage area is a separate area from where the work process is undertaken.

They must also take into consideration how the work process will affect the storage area.

The area must be arranged in such a way that there is no risk of collision, ensuring the safe handling and storage of hazardous substances and their waste by-products when transporting.

When creating a new work process or assessing one already in place all applicable aspects must be taken under review:

  • The logistics process, how often a delivery will be made and transportation method,

  • Quantities of the hazardous substances and the method of storage,

  • The position in relation to other potentially risk creating areas during transport and storage; This includes workplace boundaries, work areas, heat sources, fixed sources of ignition, other transport vehicles and the location of other hazardous substances,

  • The properties of the hazardous substances in question; This includes their flash point, volatility, electrical conductivity and their corrosiveness.

Reducing or eliminating risk when undertaking COSHH storage

Many work processes require flammable substances and other liquid substances to complete.

It is required to store only the minimum quantity of the hazardous substance(s) needed for a work process to undertaken.

After use the substance(s) must be returned immediately to their assigned storage area.

Retail businesses that offer hazardous substances for sale must ensure at all times that the correct containers are in use and that they are properly sealed and stored.

With regards to COSHH storage on retail premises, the demand for a certain substance will dictate the required minimum quantity that can be safely stored.

If a hazardous substance is flammable it must be stored in the correct, sealed containers and stored in fire-resistant cabinets.

The design of these storage vessels should ensure proper spill retention and can only reach 110% of the volume of the largest container stored therein.

No more than 50 litres of a particular substance can be stored together if that substance is extremely flammable or has a flash point below that of the maximum ambient temperature of the work process area.

If the flash point of the substance is higher, up to a maximum of 60°C, 250 litres can be stored.

Flammable liquids should also be stored in a separate area from those other hazardous substances that would weaken the stability of the container or increase the fire risk.

The COSHH storage cabinets should be situated away from the processing area and in a properly ventilated area. They must also be kept away from possible exit routes used in an emergency.

Those cabinets that are used for storing flammable substance must be constructed from materials that are fire-resistant.

The doors should be close-fitting with the proper overlap. The fastenings and supports must be able to withstand 750°C before melting point.

COSHH storage ventilation and security

If at all possible COSHH storage areas should be situated in an outside area.

This makes certain the hazardous substance is dispersed and limits the formation of explosive atmospheres

If the storage area is indoors, then local exhaust ventilation must be used when there are process areas where the release of a hazardous substance cannot be eliminated.

To properly eliminate or minimise the release of hazardous substances closed systems or the most suitable control methods must be put into place.

If the storage vessels are gas cylinders or cartridges they must be kept below 50°C.

Anything more will risk the over-pressurisation of the canister which would cause a rupture or discharge.

Where possible do not store gas cylinders in the work process area.

This is only relevant where that gas cylinder is not connected to a portable appliance.

Unused gas cylinders and cartridges must absolutely be stored in a safe place, away from the workforce and outside to ensure proper dispersion of gas where necessary.

If there is no available outside space to store gas cylinders then an indoor area specifically set up for storage can be used.

The security measures to take will differ for each COSHH storage area.

This will depend on the potential risks involved and should be dictated by the risk assessment and the safety data sheet.

It is also required to take into consideration the potential for vandalism and arson when securing your storage area.

Security measures can include but are not restricted to the proper locking of specific containers and the storeroom door, the proper securing of the work premises with fences, alarms and security patrols.

If you're worried that you or your workforce are making mistakes when storing COSHH regulated products you can take the new COSHH Risk Assessor Certification™.

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