What Does Hazardous Material Storage Mean?
Hazardous material (HAZMAT) storage refers to the storage of controlled chemicals and other hazardous materials.
When done in accordance with proper safety measures, it reduces the risk of a potential safety incident, shelters employees from exposure should an accident occur, and ensures separation between chemicals that may interact with each other to produce a hazardous reaction.
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Safeopedia Explains Hazardous Material Storage
Because many hazardous materials are frequently used in workplaces, hazardous material storage must balance safety requirements with workers’ need to be able to access regularly used materials without excessive difficulty or delay. Hazardous material storage can therefore be understood as an ongoing practice in which employers assess and manage risk associated with the materials present in the workplace.
The practice of storing hazardous materials is also a safety measure in and of itself, as it ensures that employee workspaces are segregated from exposure to storable hazardous material until it is necessary to access the material for work or disposal purposes.
Health and safety agencies, such as OSHA, prescribe a number of duties related to the storage of hazardous materials. For instance, per OSHA 1910.106, not more than 60 gallons of Class 1 (explosives) or Class 2 (hazardous gases) material and not more than 120 gallons of Class 3 material (flammable liquids) may be kept in a single storage cabinet. Workers must also receive training in proper storage procedures both to ensure their own safety and to ensure a stable level of risk within the storage environment.
OSHA’s mandatory training requirements are governed by the agency’s Hazard Communication Standard, which also mandates proper labeling of stored materials and the provision of safety data sheets (SDS) to describe the hazards associated with them. In most jurisdictions, including the United States, procedures for materials labeling and the use of SDSs to describe hazards are standardized according to the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
In addition to these protocols, storage facilities should also fulfill a number of safety criteria in their construction and design. These criteria include resistance to damage from accidents such as chemical spills and fires, well-labeled escape routes from the storage area, and sufficient lighting. Hazardous material may be stored in purpose-built storage rooms located within an occupied building; however, extremely hazardous materials are often stored in external storage containers, lockers, or buildings that provide significant separation between the hazardous material and the work environment.