Hazardous storage cabinets are ideal for storing anything that is marked with a hazard symbol, which means it has been classified as a danger to health and that businesses must be law prevent their workers from being exposed to it. This can include chemicals, fumes, dusts, vapours, mists and gases which could be damaging to the environment or to health.
Hazardous Chemicals and Where to Find Them
While most of us think chemicals belong in science laboratories, in reality many chemicals are in the products we use in our workplaces and home. If used incorrectly they can be extremely dangerous, and can cause serious damage to health. Common health effects from chemicals include skin irritation, blindness and eye injuries, burns from solvents catching fire, injury caused by exploding containers and poisoning.
Ten Common Hazardous Chemicals That Should Be Secured
- Toners. While you may not think of your office as a dangerous place, it will not doubt contain photocopier toner. Some of the substances contained within photocopier toner have known risks to health, which can be caused either by direct exposure to the chemicals or as a result of emissions.
- Bleach. Chlorine bleach, also known as sodium hypochlorite can be found in disinfectants and cleaners, mildew removers, and toilet cleaning products. It can cause pulmonary oedema, vomiting and coma if ingested, and if mixed with ammonia can actually give off deadly fumes.
- Glues. Solvents are used in many adhesives, and often contain petroleum distillates. These are petrochemicals which are chemicals made from coal tar or crude oil. These are associated with skin and lung cancer, and are an irritant to the skin, eyes, nose and lungs.
- Paint and Polish. Petroleum distillates are also commonly found in paint thinner, furniture and metal polishes, stains and paints and in some liquid pest control products. All flammable liquids should be stored in fire-resistant hazardous storage cabinets that are designed to retain spills.
- Motor Oil. Premises that carry out motor vehicle repairs will have a supply of engine oil and other fuel oils, which carry hazard warning labels.
- Car Cleaners. While many car cleaners are harmless, some contain flammable solvents and prolonged contact can lead to dermatitis. They can also be harmful if they come into contact directly with skin or with eyes.
- Parts degreasers. Oil based degreasers are often toxic and usually flammable. Protective clothing should be worn when using these, and the working area properly ventilated.
- Pesticides. Commonly used to control insects, weeds, rodents and fungi, these come in many forms.
- Corrosives. Corrosive materials attack and destroy human tissue on contact and must be handled, stored, and disposed of safely. They are found in many cleaning products.
- Compressed gases, found in some aerosols. These can pose a risk to health, be a fire hazard and can react with other substances.
Protecting Your Workforce from Dangerous Chemicals
By law, employers must protect their workers from the harmful effects of dangerous chemicals. They must also provide them with information on risks posed by working with hazardous substances and train them on how to use them safely. Many chemicals can be hazardous in the event of a fire, and should always be stored in hazardous storage cabinets.