As their name indicates, dangerous goods are harmful to humans and the environment in general. It could have been better to eradicate them completely, but that is quite impossible because they have important applications in industry. Instead, authorities have come up with safety measures that have to be followed when handling, transporting and storing these hazardous substances. Dangerous goods include flammables, combustibles, explosives, chemicals, and radioactive material among others.
Warehouses are very important in storing manufactured, imported or any other goods in bulk. Dangerous goods are also stored in warehouses before use or transit and if they are not stored properly, they pose high risks of fires and explosions. This can be very dangerous as it can cause loss of life and property. Injuries can also be caused as a result of skin contact, ingestion as well as inhalation of dangerous material. To avoid such health hazards and safety risks, it is necessary to put control measures in place both before and during operations.
Understanding the health hazards as a result of dangerous goods is important in order to impose adequate control measures. In implementing the risk management system, the warehouse owner, the employees and the supplier of dangerous goods have to participate fully. When handling dangerous goods, there is no guess work. A systematic assessment of potential dangers needs to be made and appropriate action made to address identified issues. The following guidelines will help during the handling and storage of dangerous goods in warehouses.
What the owner of the warehouse must know
The warehouse owner is the one who is in charge of the warehouse and is responsible for all operations that take place in the warehouse. The management should address issues that deal with the design of the workplace, smooth normal operations and safety by doing the following:
• Provide adequate supervision to ensure that all regulations are adhered to
Without proper supervision, it is impossible to know if employees are following the necessary safety precautions. For instance, the management should know if dangerous goods are being handled as they should or if there are any emergency issues that need to be dealt with.
• Provide enough information
The warehouse owner should also ensure that employees are well equipped with the relevant information and instructions concerning the handling and storage of dangerous goods. This is achieved through proper training and supervision.
• Make arrangements for safe warehouse operations such as the handling, use, transportation and storage of dangerous goods.
• Ensure that there is a safe working environment that poses no health risks to those working there.
• Ensure that the workplace is equipped with appropriate and enough working equipment for the employees.
What the employees must know
Warehouse employees have a big role to make in ensuring that their health and safety is guaranteed at all times. They are the ones that handle dangerous goods first hand and there should be no careless mistakes on their side. In case there is a situation that they may feel it can bring harm to them like leakage of dangerous gases or dangerous liquid spills, they should report such matters to the relevant place for quick action. Employees should always ensure that they do the following:
• Follow instructions put in place by the employer
The employer or owner knows the hazards associated with the storage of dangerous goods in the warehouse and provide instructions for employees to follow to ensure that workplace safety is guaranteed at all times. Employees should therefore follow those instructions religiously.
• Wear protective clothing and equipment
Without the use of protective gear, employees can get injuries as a result of contact with dangerous goods. This comes through touch, inhalation and ingestion.
• Exercise due caution and care
Employees should ensure that they use common sense to ensure their own safety and that of their colleagues in the warehouse.
What the supplier must know
In any warehouse, there is always a supplier that supplies these dangerous good and has a role to play in ensuring the safety of those who are being supplied with the goods.
• Ensure the suitability and the competence of the warehouse
A supplier should not just supply dangerous goods to a warehouse that does not meet the minimum requirements to handle such goods. This can be in terms of infrastructure or safety standards.
• Provide recommendations and instructions in case of emergencies
The supplier understands better about the nature of dangerous goods and should give recommendations on proper handling and storage to the warehouse owner.
• Ensure the acknowledgement of the receipt of the goods
The warehouse owner has to acknowledge the receipt of supplied goods being clearly aware of the hazards that they can cause in order to take full responsibility.
• Leave emergency contacts in case the warehouse owner may need advice on any arising matter
All in all, proper dangerous goods storage is important in ensuring the health and safety of employees and the environment as well. So do remember to follow the guidelines for maximum safety.