In the cleaning industry, the handling and storage of cleaning chemicals is often overlooked or mismanaged in safety evaluations and audits, which can have major consequences. Proper handling and storage of products is essential to a safe workplace, and routine inspections should be performed annually to remain efficient and protect your team. By following a few simple steps, you can ensure your facility is not only clean, but safe as well.
An Effective Chemical Safety Program is Key
Following a strict chemical safety program is one of the most important steps to ensure the proper handling and storage of cleaning chemicals. Here’s a few things your chemical safety program should include:
- A complete list of all cleaning chemicals used in the facility.
- Documentation on the potential hazards associated with each chemical, as well as a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each cleaning product.
- Clearly-labeled cleaning products.
- Properly trained employees with access to training resources as needed.
- Safety signage conveniently placed around your facility.
Training Your Staff on Cleaning Chemical Safety
Training your staff to use and store cleaning chemicals properly is just as critical as providing necessary documentation. Many cleaning chemicals can be flammable or corrosive—posing risk to the user. There can be dangerous consequences when employees mistake high-risk chemicals for low-risk chemicals, so a good rule of thumb is to familiarize all employees with the following “signal words” and where they typically appear on containers:
- Caution: the product should be used carefully but is relatively safe.
- Warning: the product is moderately toxic.
- Danger: the product is highly toxic and may cause permanent damage to skin and eyes.
Choosing the Proper Location for Cleaning Chemicals
Even with proper documentation and training, improper storage of your cleaning chemicals can be just as dangerous as product misuse. Choosing the safest location for each chemical should also be part of your chemical safety program. Some specifications of your storage space should include:
- Store in a clean, cool, dry space. Some cleaning chemicals can have hazardous reactions when they experience extreme temperature fluctuations or high levels of humidity.
- Store in well-ventilated areas, away from HVAC intake vents. This helps prevent any fumes from spreading to other areas of the facility.
- Store no higher than eye level, and never on the top shelf of a storage area.
- Do not overcrowd shelves and include anti-roll lips to avoid falling containers.
- Never store cleaning chemicals on the floor, even temporarily.
Organizing Cleaning Chemicals for Optimal Safety
Effective organization of your cleaning chemicals within the designated storage space increases efficiency and prevents accidents. You should always separate chemicals according to their hazard class and be aware of which may cause dangerous reactions if mixed. Likewise, similar products should be grouped together, as they react similarly to climate.
Oxidizers, flammable chemicals, and combustible chemicals should be stored away from ignition sources such as flames, heat, sunlight, work operations that might cause a spark, and in some cases, even static electricity. Flammable materials should be stored in an approved, dedicated flammable materials storage cabinet or storage room if the volume exceeds ten gallons. The National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 30 code for flammable and combustible liquids is advocated by OSHA and should be followed for optimum safety.
Handling Cleaning Chemicals and Maintaining Storage Areas
Handling your cleaning chemicals safely and ensuring that standards are upheld is probably the most important aspect of proper cleaning chemical storage. All containers should be properly sealed and kept in either their original container or an appropriate container for their hazard class. Different chemicals should never be mixed, even if they are similar “types” of chemicals. Portable cleaning product containers should be returned to their designated place when not in use. In addition, the dates of all products should be known, and old, unused products should be safely disposed. Consider disposing of any open product that has not been used for one year and any sealed product that has not been used for two years.
Proper documentation, training, location, organization, handling, and maintenance of your cleaning chemical storage protocol will eliminate risks and ensure safety in your operations.
Midlab Knows Cleaning Chemical Safety and Efficiency
Those who work around cleaning chemicals deserve to feel comfortable in their daily environment. Following precautions to ensure employee safety has become a top priority for industry leaders.
At Midlab, we create innovations that support cleaning chemical safety and efficiency.
The PLUS Label System is revolutionizing the cleaning industry with easy-to-understand, step-by-step labels that prevent product misuse. FlexMax bags save space and reduce waste by replacing bulky buckets with flexible, collapsible, chemical-safe bags. Facility+ is an all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant that eliminates the need for multiple products. EDS is an Easy Dilution Solution for simplifying cleaning and eliminating product waste and misuse.