Working with hazardous substances requires extra care and caution. Storing and labeling hazardous substances correctly is essential to ensure the safety of workers, prevent accidents and protect the environment. A well-implemented safety plan that includes proper storage and labeling of hazardous substances is the first step in creating a safe and hazard-free workplace.
This guide provides an overview of the safety measures needed to store and label hazardous substances and why these measures are so important. It also outlines the steps you can take to ensure that all hazardous substances are properly stored and labeled and that everyone in the workplace is aware of and understands the risks associated with them. Following these measures will go a long way toward creating a safe and healthy work environment.
What are hazardous substances?
A hazardous substance is any material that poses a potential risk to people and the environment. Classification of hazardous substances is based on their potential to cause harm, their persistence, and the difficulty of removing them from the environment. Hazardous substances are often flammable, corrosive, explosive, toxic, or a combination of these properties.
Chemicals found in laboratories, including cleaning and disinfecting agents, reagents, and other substances used in research and teaching, are also hazardous substances. Hazardous substances may be used in various ways. Some examples include storing them in bulk in a central location or using them in small quantities with various equipment, such as pipettes and microtiter plates.
Why is storing and labeling hazardous substances important?
Proper storage and labeling of hazardous substances are vital safety measures that help protect workers and the environment. Incorrect storage and labeling of hazardous substances can lead to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. Following these safety measures will also help you adhere to workplace regulations and standards and protect your organization from costly fines and penalties.
When using hazardous substances, you should always be aware of their properties, correct labeling, and safe storage. This will help you avoid mistakes, such as mixing incompatible chemicals or storing the wrong substance in the wrong container.
What are the safety measures needed to store and label hazardous substances?
There are several safety measures needed to store and label hazardous substances correctly:
- Hazardous Substances Inventory - First, you should conduct a comprehensive inventory of all hazardous substances used in your organization. This inventory should include the type, quantity, container type, location, and expiration date of each substance. Your inventory should be available to all workers and be easily accessible.
- Hazardous Substances Training - Always provide workers with hazardous substances training. This training should be tailored to the substances used in your organization and the potential hazards associated with them.
- Written Standard Operating Procedures - Always follow written procedures for storing and handling hazardous substances. Your procedures should be up-to-date and include a detailed description of the hazards associated with each substance.
- Labeling of Hazardous Substances - Label all containers holding hazardous substances and follow any applicable regulatory requirements. Make sure that all labels are legible and are placed in a way that makes them visible but not easily accessible.
- The Universal Symbols for Hazardous Substances - Always use the universal symbols to label containers holding hazardous substances. These symbols indicate the nature of the hazards associated with the substances and the required safety measures.
What are the steps to store and label hazardous substances correctly?
To store and label hazardous substances correctly, follow these steps:
- Assess the Hazards Associated with the Substances Used in Your Organization - First, assess the hazards associated with the substances used in your organization and create a list of those substances. This is the first step in storing and labeling hazardous substances correctly.
- Identify the Equipment and Areas Used for the Storage and Handling of Hazardous Substances - Next, identify the equipment and areas used for the storage and handling of hazardous substances and the potential risks associated with them.
- Choose the Appropriate Containers for the Storage and Handling of Hazardous Substances - Once you’ve identified the equipment and areas used for the storage and handling of hazardous substances, you can choose the appropriate containers for each substance.
- Choose the Appropriate Location for the Storage of Hazardous Substances - Next, choose the appropriate location for the storage of hazardous substances, taking into account the risk they pose to people and the environment.
- Always Comply With the Labeling Requirements of Hazardous Substances - Finally, always comply with the labeling requirements of hazardous substances.
What are the consequences of not storing and labeling hazardous substances correctly?
Not storing and labeling hazardous substances correctly can result in a number of negative consequences, including fines, injuries, and fatalities. It can also lead to the release of hazardous substances into the environment, which can have lasting effects on wildlife and ecosystems. If you fail to store and label hazardous substances correctly, you may be forced to shut down your operations, which will impact productivity and profitability.
If an accident results from the incorrect storage and labeling of hazardous substances, you could face hefty fines and be held liable for any injuries and/or fatalities that result. Additionally, you may have to pay for the decontamination and disposal of the environment, as well as the repair or replacement of damaged equipment.
If a significant amount of hazardous substances are released into the environment, they can have harmful effects on wildlife, ecosystems, and public health.
What are the best practices for storing and labeling hazardous substances?
To store and label hazardous substances correctly, use the following best practices:
- Use Standardized Containers and Labels - Always use standardized containers and labels for storing hazardous substances. Select containers that are properly labeled, child-resistant, and designed to the appropriate DOT (Department of Transportation) specifications if applicable. Containers should be clearly marked with the correct chemical name and hazard information. Select containers that are appropriate for the volume and quantity of substances used.
- Comply With the Expiration Dates of Hazardous Substances - Always comply with the expiration dates of hazardous substances, and replace them as necessary. - Train Workers Who Handle Hazardous Substances - Always train workers who handle hazardous substances and provide them with updated training as necessary.
- Always Follow the Written Standard Operating Procedures for the Storage and Handling of Hazardous Substances - Finally, always follow the written standard operating procedures for the storage and handling of hazardous substances.
What should safety training be provided to workers handling hazardous substances?
All workers who handle hazardous substances should be provided with safety training. This training can be tailored to the specific substances used in your organization and the potential hazards associated with them. The training should cover the following topics: the hazards associated with the substances, the proper use and handling of the substances, the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) needed when handling the substances, and how to properly clean up spills of the substances.
Workers who handle hazardous substances should be re-trained every year or more frequently if there are significant changes in the workplace, such as adding new substances or changing their use.
There are many hazards associated with working with hazardous substances. When used correctly and stored in the appropriate containers, these substances can be a valuable resource for the laboratory. Every laboratory should have a Hazardous Substance Inventory that includes the name, quantity, location, and expiration date of these substances.
When storing these substances, make sure they are properly labeled and in containers designed for the specific chemical. When working with hazardous substances, always follow safety procedures and use the correct safety equipment.