Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Substances, without a doubt, pose an immediate risk to people, property, and the environment. The nature of these substances whether on their own or in combination can be explosive, radioactive, flammable, oxidising, toxic, or even corrosive.
It is of prime importance that handling of these dangerous goods should be done with care, presence of mind, and in compliance with existing safety regulations. This is to prevent, if not minimise, the risks associated with mishandling the goods and substances in your workplace.
The Australian Standards list down the requirements for the storage, transport, and handling of dangerous goods and hazardous substances. These documents outline the best practices for the storage, transport, and handling of dangerous goods in the workplace.
Each class of Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Substances pose various risks upon the workplace. For this reason, Standards Australia developed a set of different standards for each dangerous goods class.
Tips to Protect your Workplace from Dangerous Goods Risks
The main step you have to ensure is that your business meets the obligations under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act in Australia. This piece of legislation should serve as your guide for your overall approach to safety at the workplace.
With this in place, the buck doesn’t stop there. Simply being compliant with WHS does not minimise or prevent accidents from happening. It is therefore prudent that you should:
1. Identify the properties of the chemicals you are using.
The most important factor and critical aspect of using chemicals is to understand what chemicals or substances you are dealing with. The document you need to get this information is covered by the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) that is required from chemical suppliers to provide with each and every hazardous substance or product they produce.
It is good practice to obtain the SDS from your supplier before your order arrives onsite. This should give you ample time to review the hazards, for you to make the necessary preparations and apply changes to your work design. This may include obtaining safety equipment and clothing for your workers, or the need to install Dangerous Goods Storage equipment from a reputable and safety compliant company such as Wholesale Safety Storage Australia WSSA.
2. Ensure to store chemicals safely.
There are an insane number of chemicals and compounds that can react differently when it comes in contact with other substances. Some react violently and may cause fires, toxic gas clouds, or even cause explosions.
You must ensure that different chemicals and substances you handle and use in your workplace are stored safely (and separately) such as WSSA’s Chemical Storage Cabinets that are in compliance with the Australian WHS.
Begin by consulting the SDS for each chemical, the SDS has a section that provides details how a particular chemical should be handled and stored. Additionally, it also provides which incompatible substances should be kept separate.
3. Implement guidelines in handling large packages of dangerous goods.
Due to the increased usage of dangerous goods, chemical manufacturers now pack their goods in larger packages. It is no longer uncommon to see dangerous goods such as acids and flammable liquids in packages as large as 240 litre drums or 1,568 litres Collapsible Bunds.
If your business procures dangerous goods in bulk containers, the use of a forklift must be used in lifting these containers. It is much harder to handle drums due to their rounded shape. To remedy this, the use of specialised forklift attachments is a necessity.
If for some reason your forklifts lack attachments, these drums can still be handled and lifted safely by using a pallet. Just make sure the drum is well secured before lifting the pallet.
4. Make sure your workers are protected.
Not only will you have to always keep in mind to protect your property, you also need to consciously keep in mind the safety of your workers who handle these chemicals. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a control measure that is a must to protect your workforce with risks associated with dangerous goods.
It is particularly important to impose the use of PPE’s for people who dispense and handle toxic and corrosive substances. Needless to say, toxic substances will cause harm to human health if they come in contact with skin, more so if they enter the body.
To make sure that your workers have access to the correct PPE, all the relevant PPE must be kept and stored with high-visibility PPE Cabinets that are placed within the vicinity of your dangerous goods location.
5. Make sure to train your staff thoroughly.
When handling dangerous goods and hazardous substances, it is not enough just to comply with WHS, having SDS and PPE on hand. Every member of your workforce is at risk of being harmed by chemicals and substances, so it is vital that they must be made to understand the risks and hazards that could impact them personally.
Inclusive in your training should include guidelines in how to organise your storage areas, implement risk assessments, record all your safety procedures and controls, and continuously monitor and review if guidelines are being followed strictly.
When training your staff, you should also include your office and administration staff, especially those who may need to go on site and manufacturing areas. It is also equally important to train them how to respond to any chemical fire, explosion, or any emergency situation on site.
Do note that temporary visitors may also be placed at risk in your worksite. A way to spare them from harm is to limit their access to your operational areas. Also, you might also consider implementing guidelines for them if contracting work areas is necessary.
Don’t risk your workers’ safety or simply relying on your company’s compliance with Australian Standards and WHS. In any workplace, safety is a must, most especially for businesses that handle dangerous goods and substances.
If you are on the lookout for safety storage cabinets for your dangerous goods or hazardous materials and require help finding the right cabinet to suit your needs, feel free to contact Wholesale Safety Storage Australia directly. We would be more than happy to walk you through our selection of cabinets—from indoor cabinets to outdoor cabinets.