Storage of dangerous or hazardous materials
Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002, you must ensure chemicals and dangerous substances are stored and handled in a way that minimises the risks posed by those substances and which limits people's exposure to them.
You need to assess the risks of storing and handling dangerous substances - including the possibility of environmental damage caused by leaks and spills.
You should then implement any precautions needed to control risks, including:
- storing chemicals according to the manufacturer's instructions on the safety data sheet
- keeping the minimum quantity of hazardous substances necessary
- storing incompatible substances separately
- taking steps to prevent release or leakage of dangerous substances
- keeping a spill kit near to storage areas, and ensuring staff are trained in what to do in the event of a spill
- cleaning up any leaks or spills that occur
- using appropriate precautions when handling substances - for example, wearing protective clothing or ensuring adequate ventilation
- ensuring employees who store and handle dangerous substances are properly trained
- checking containers used for short-term storage are properly labelled
If you store chemicals or dangerous substances that could create a fire or , you must also comply with the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. Download a leaflet on fire and explosion safety regulations from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website (PDF) - Opens in a new window.
Ensure that flammable substances are correctly stored in suitable containers and are not stored near to a source of ignition such as a heater.
It's also best practice to:
- place stores of liquid above ground where they're unlikely to be damaged, eg away from traffic routes
- avoid overfilling containers
- supervise deliveries
- maintain gauges, valves and pipework
- monitor oil use - unexpectedly high use may indicate a leak
- have procedures for dealing with emergency leakages
- use a secondary containment system such as a drip tray or bund (a storage area designed to prevent liquids escaping)
If your business has containers, the Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 or the Water Environment (Oil Storage) (Scotland) Regulations 2006 may apply.
Although these regulations only apply to England and Scotland, businesses in Northern Ireland and Wales are strongly advised to comply with these regulations to lessen the risk of causing water pollution. See our guide on how to store oil.
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