Chemical Storage Building

Last updated: August 2, 2018

What Does Chemical Storage Building Mean?

A chemical storage building is a facility used to house hazardous chemical substances and their associated waste products. They are usually prefabricated structures, manufactured off-site, and transported to the worksite either fully assembled or ready-to-assemble.

Unlike storage lockers, they are large enough to store a number of chemicals within a single space without creating a significant risk of hazardous interactions between chemicals could occur. They also provide enough interior space for employees to move and work within.

Chemical storage buildings are classified as Group H (“highly hazardous”) buildings under the International Building Code (IBC).

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Safeopedia Explains Chemical Storage Building

Chemical storage buildings use materials that are resistant to fire and other chemical-related hazards. They provide segregation between chemical hazards and employees in the the work environment. In order to reduce the risk of an incident occurring within the building, it must be designed with adequate ventilation, spill containment units, and non-combustible lighting and heating sources. Units may also feature lightweight roofs or relief panels to act as a form of explosion relief and reduce the chance that the building or its contents could pose a shrapnel hazard.

Employer Obligations

Employers face a number of obligations related to the safe storage of chemicals. In the United States, these include:

  • OSHA’s material handling and storage regulations
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations
  • National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) Code 30
  • The Uniform Fire Code (UFC).

The use of dedicated storage buildings is an important part of meeting these requirements in situations where the chemicals to be stored are too hazardous to be safely stored as a fixed part of an occupied structure, or where the worksite lacks a permanent storage location.

The specific obligations that govern employers' use of storage buildings depends on the chemicals that are to be stored within, as well as the location of the building relative to occupied work spaces. For instance, fire-protected storage buildings are often used to hold flammable and explosive substances that need be stored separately from occupied buildings, in which case their usage is governed by standards such as OSHA Standard 1910.106 – Flammable Liquid Storage.

Storing Flammable Material

When used to house flammable material, the acceptable distance between an external storage building and an occupied building is determined by its level of fire resistance. The International Building Code (IBC) states that storage buildings with no fire rating must be placed at least 30 feet from an occupied building, while a two-hour fire-rated building can be as little as ten feet from an occupied building.

In all cases, buildings should be equipped with a suitable means of grounding both the building itself and the substances stored within the building in order to prevent the ignition of substances by an electrical source. In the United States, this grounding must meet NFPA Code 70 requirements.



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