HOW TO SAFELY HANDLE AND STORE CHEMICALS

Industry

Working with the environment rather than against it has come a long way. For example, developing commercial cleaning equipment that features emission-free battery technology, reduced water consumption and chemical-free cleaning are just three of the many ways Conquest supports ‘green cleaning’.

Yet certain applications, such as those required in hospitals and food processing facilities, still require added chemical assistance, so it’s imperative that safe handling and storage practices remain a priority when operating commercial cleaning equipment such as floor sweepers and scrubbing machines.

Location, location, location

The correct storage of such hazardous materials as cleaning chemicals used for industrial floor cleaners means that location is very important. The good news is that there are a number of practical steps you can take to maximise safety. Above all, you need to ensure:

  • You have first read the specific directions on the container or as noted in Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
  • The location is highly secure, and infrastructure supports minimisation of potential damage in case of fire, spills or explosion.
  • You prevent build-up of harmful fumes and unpleasant odours by having adequate ventilation.
  • That chemicals are nowhere near flames or sparks which can act as a source of ignition, and that the area is generally cool and away from direct sunlight.

Another perhaps less obvious factor to take into account is the possibility of leaks and spills – including vapours – and how escaping chemicals or fumes could react with other chemicals nearby. You can significantly reduce this risk by storing incompatible chemicals separately.
Finally, the storage location of chemicals used in scrubbing machines, industrial floor cleaners and other types of commercial equipment must also include:

  • A clear emergency action plan, including first aid and an evacuation plan.
  • Adequate spill containment gear, including approved safety wear such as gloves, masks, eye protection and cover-alls.
  • Fire-fighting equipment such as the correct type of extinguishers and fire blankets.

Handle with care

As important as safe storage is the need to handle all chemicals with the utmost respect. SafeWork Australia recommends the following useful checklist for safe handling:

  • Identify all reasonably foreseeable hazards.
  • Eliminate risk as far as is reasonably practical. If it isn’t practical to do so, then abide by the hierarchy of risk control.
  • Maintain and enforce safe storage of chemicals guidelines at all times so that they remain effective.
  • Regularly review your risk control measures to maintain optimum safety levels.

In the not too distant future entirely chemical-free cleaning using environmentally-friendly commercial cleaning equipment may be appropriate for all applications, even those requiring strict hygiene and bacterial control protocols. Until that happy day arrives, the need to keep safety top of mind when operating, maintaining, storing or transporting scrubbing machines and industrial floor cleaners must remain a priority for everyone.

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