You store COSHH substances by using a COSHH cupboard, bins or another anti-fire or spill-resistant cupboard, and by following good storage practices.
There are a number of things your organisation must bear in mind when storing these hazardous substances. Good practises include:
- The correct quantity of the substance stored
- Storing certain chemicals or dangerous substances separately
- Using the appropriate COSHH regulation labels
- Storing items away from where they are likely to be damaged
- Following any other storage guidelines as per the respective safety data sheet (SDS)
Often, hazardous liquids will have some sort of storage limit on them. This applies to especially explosive or flammable substances, as they have a large area of impact. For example, extremely flammable liquids have a storage limit of 50 litres.
These types of substances should be stored in containers that “retain spills (capacity should be 110% volume of the largest vessel normally stored in it).” The cabinet should be fire-resistant, which is why we recommend using the appropriate COSHH cabinet, as they have various uses for many types of chemical. Furthermore, only trusted people with a key can open the cabinet, which is really useful for workplaces like schools. When you use bins, make sure that the container is free of any cracks or holes.
When storing hazardous chemicals or other substances, SDSs are your friend. They will inform you of dangerous handling and storing practices, and how best to avoid them. This information comes straight from the original manufacturer, meaning it is the most up to date. They are a fundamental part of any COSHH-related assessment.
Accidents may happen, and you should be ready for them. Therefore, you need policies in place to make sure that employees know what to do in the event of an accidental spillage.
What are COSHH Substances?
COSHH stands for the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health. But what exactly is a ‘substance hazardous to health’? Well, according to the Health and Safety Executive, it is any of the following items:
- Products containing chemicals e.g. cleaning agents
- Biological agents
- Germs that cause diseases
COSHH substances are not things that have their own specialised rules and regulations, like asbestos and lead.
Of course, only a few of these items are suitable for storage. These include chemicals, products containing chemicals, gasses and in some rare cases, biological agents. The others may be a by-product of workplace operations, like spraying paint or cleaning surfaces.
Often, when you mix these things together, it can have deadly consequences. However, they may also cause a lot of problems when ignited. This is why you should always store COSHH substances away from heavy machinery, open flames or other potential fire hazards.
The Importance of Safe Storage
Not only is safe storage of COSHH items good practice, it is also part of your legal duties as an organisation.
If you fail to properly store hazardous items, you are putting your employees at risk. You open them up to all the health impacts of being exposed to harmful chemicals, including skin and eye irritation, in addition to lung damage.
In addition, your organisation may be penalised. Failing to uphold COSHH regulations has meant heavy fines in the past. Although the cost of ensuring proper storage may seem steep at first, it will be much less than a fine.
For more information about safe storage and other topics, you can refer to our eLearning course. It is approved by RoSPA and will make sure that your place of work is compliant with the regulations.