Chemical Industry Safety: Best Guidelines and Practices
In any industry, especially the chemical industry, it is important to maintain safety throughout the whole process. Safety is not just about placing chemicals in the right place and wearing the right equipment when handling it. It requires planning on every step, from knowing what chemicals to handle to what happens if things go wrong. In this blog, we will be discussing the various precautionary measures, we will highlight the importance of identifying and labeling chemicals, transportation and packaging guidelines that are prescribed by national and international authorities for regulating the Chemical Industry.
Why Should You Care?
-Health Risk in Handling Chemicals
Health Risk Factor
Day in and day out, everyone is exposed to a complex combination of dozens of exogenous substances. Cancer, birth abnormalities, and infertility are all on the rise in industrial civilizations, and they are all connected, to various degrees and in part, to environmental exposures.
When chemicals are spilled, for example, out of containers, the threat becomes apparent. Among the many causes of a chemical leak are:
- Unsafe methods of chemical sampling and transfer
- mechanical damage to the container caused by bumping during transit, tilting over after being put on unstable ground or rack...
- filling expansion caused by vapor pressure build-up with heat, crystallization at low temperatures, chemical breakdown with time or triggered by light exposure
- container ageing as a result of plastic becoming brittle over time or as a result of exposure to light or low temperatures, plastic softening through heat, metal corrosion, and interaction between the container and its contents
This chemical dispersion has the potential to have catastrophic effects. Intoxication can result from a spilled chemical, especially if it is volatile or a gas at room temperature. The risk of intoxication is especially vexing when the spilt chemical does not have any severe toxicological properties on its own but releases a toxic substance when it reacts with the environment or other chemicals stored in the same room, for example, gaseous chlorine forms when liquid bleach comes into contact with an acidic solution. Corrosive liquids, such as caustic soda, can cause irritations to severe chemical burns.
Aside from these acute symptoms, a variety of chronic consequences such as
- decreased organ function,
- and cancer can arise.
In contrast to acute effects, the development of chronic effects does not always depend on the degree of exposure: allergies, for example, might be induced by extremely low concentrations of a sensitising agent.
Liquefied gases are a particular danger among all chemical types. Contact with liquid gases produces severe frostbites, and even if they are not poisonous, their fast expansion can locally reduce oxygen concentrations to dangerously low levels, resulting in hypoxia.
-Environmental Risk in Handling Chemicals
Hazardous Chemicals causing harm to the Environment
Aside from the health risks they pose to personnel, stored chemicals may pose risks to facilities, wildlife and flora, and the general public off-site. Some of the various environmental harms produced by chemicals are described here;
- Toxic chemicals that are discharged can irrevocably change soils, streams, and ground waters, impacting nearby populations. The type of environmental damage caused by a chemical spill is determined by its toxicological, physical, and chemical properties as well as those of the polluted site (permeation properties, and so on), but pollution risk increases with the amount of stored chemicals.
- Inadvertent fires or explosions can also occur when chemicals are stored in confined rooms. Fires and explosions are responsible for a small number of occupational accidents in the European Union each year, but when they do occur, they frequently take lives and have severe environmental and economic effects.
- An uncontrolled oxidation process between flammable materials and an oxidant results in hostile fire. Both components are frequently found in large quantities in a storage facility. The most common oxidant involved in a fire is oxygen, whereas stored products , packaging materials, or pallets are combustible. A fire can be started by a spark or heat or even an explosion too.
- Unintentional explosions can be either "physical" or "chemical." When pressure builds up within a chemical container, for example, a physical explosion can occur. Chemical explosions are caused by chemical processes such as decomposition or the creation of an explosive environment. At critical content in the atmosphere, several dusts of flammable materials such as wheat and coal can cause an explosion.
Get to Know Your Chemical
-What is CAS (Chemical Abstract Service)?
Every chemical substance reported in the open scientific literature, including organic and inorganic compounds, minerals, isotopes, alloys, and nonstructural materials, is assigned a CAS Registry Number by the Chemical Abstracts Service. For instance, toxic industrial chemicals are those that are created, stored, transported, and utilized all over the world.
Toxic industrial chemicals can exist as a gas, liquid, or solid. They can be chemical dangers (for example, carcinogens, reproductive hazards, corrosives, or agents that damage the lungs or blood) or physical hazards (for example, flammable, combustible, explosive, or toxic substances).
-Labeling Standards of Chemicals
In 2008 and 2009, China issued two major national guidelines for the labelling and packaging of chemical goods in accordance with GHS.
Precautionary Planning and Guidelines
On May 1, 2010, the first obligatory national labelling standard (GB 15258-2009) – “General guidelines for production of precautionary labels for chemicals” – went into effect. This standard includes examples of warning labels, transport symbols, and precautionary remarks for several chemical categories. The changeover period lasts from 1 May 2010 until 1 May 2011. There are several distinctions between this criterion and the CLP regulation.
- A black frame of a pictogram is also acceptable (for domestic use).
- A simplified label is available for volume 0.1L.
- There is no minimum size requirement for a pictogram.
- There is no limit of 6 p-statements.
- The emergency number on the label must be a domestic 24h emergency telephone number.
The second obligatory national standard (GB 190-2009) - "Packaging Labels for Dangerous Goods" - is based on the 15th updated version of the UN Guidelines on Dangerous Goods Transport. This standard outlines the criteria for hazardous products pictograms, label size, color, and packaging. This standard went into effect on May 1, 2010.
Most chemical firms utilize trucks to transport their goods directly to their clients (including short and long hauls), to warehouse and terminal facilities, and for intermodal rail shipments. Another common application for truck transportation is the movement of containers from production or packing facilities to ports for export.
Moving chemicals from room to room or between buildings on the same site, such as a university campus or manufacturing site, is perhaps the more prevalent and normal kind of chemical transportation. Even if the odds of an accident seem remote over such small distances, additional care must be taken to avoid an accident.
The following are some best practices for on-site transportation of hazardous substances:
- When transporting chemicals on-site, always utilize secondary containment by placing bottles, jars, or other chemical containers on a tray or other carrier.
- Carry trays holding hazardous chemicals with suitable equipment, such as laboratory carts, rather than by hand.
- Bring a spill management kit with you when transporting hazardous products to ensure a quick reaction in the event of an accident.
- Never carry incompatible substances in the same container—you need to avoid undesired reactions in the case of a leak or spill.
- Never attempt to clean up a spill without assistance if you are unsure what to do, you feel it is unsafe, or you don’t know what materials have been spilled.
- Anyone participating in the on-site transportation of hazardous products should wear PPE appropriate for the substances being transported.
External chemical transport of hazardous compounds may provide a greater risk of larger-scale accidents than on-site chemical transport since the amounts of chemicals carried are sometimes significantly higher.
- Always carry an appropriate spill kit—especially it's crucial to utilize spill kits suited for the chemicals being transported.
- Hazmat kits are often used for corrosive acids, solvents, and other "hostile" chemicals. Universal spill kits are used to clean up spills that involve either water or hydrocarbon compounds. Oil-only kits are designed just for oil.
- To prevent the danger of a reaction during transport, ensure that mixed classes of hazardous chemicals are adequately segregated.
- Always secure hazardous substances on the vehicle or other means of transportation so that they cannot move or fall.
- Only use qualified and registered carriers to carry hazardous chemicals both domestically and internationally. Prior to carriage, acquire written evidence of competency from the transport firm.
- Always categorize chemicals according to their risks as specified by the UN so that suitable packaging for all commodities being carried may be selected.
- Aptly mark all packing with the required diamond-shaped transport hazard label.
Transporting hazardous materials can result in explosions, fires, poisonous leaks, radioactive spills, and inhalation of corrosive chemicals, all of which pose serious risks to people and the environment. Because of these risks, safe chemical transportation is important, whether the chemicals are being transferred between laboratories or across borders.
With a decade of experience of transporting chemicals across the globe, Camachem follows the international guidelines for transporting Chemicals around the world.
Packaging and Storage Guidelines for Chemicals
Packaging and storage conditions are critical to handling the dangerous chemicals appropriately and in accordance with the international laws. Many times, chemicals are poured straight into storage tanks, which might be above or below ground. Alternatively, they may be poured into tanks kept in warehouses or other facilities, where they will be utilized for production or until resold or redistributed.
However, proper storage and packaging guidelines must be ensured while handling the chemicals. Some of the storage and packaging include:
- Chemical drums, often known as barrels, are cylindrically shaped containers made of fibre, metals, or plastics. They are the most appealing items in the bulk container category, and they are recognised to be environmentally friendly due to their capacity to be or reused. Chemical barrels have a volume of approximately 200 litres and are used to hold nearly all chemical types.
- Intermediate Bulk Containers, also known as IBCs are customised containers that can carry up to 1,000 litres of liquid. These cube-shaped containers, which can be constructed of plastic, metal, or a mixture of the two, are widely used in the handling (storage) of hazardous chemicals as well as other compounds such as edible liquids, lubricants, and essential oils.
- Jerry Cans are yet another safe and dependable medium for packing and transporting bulk liquids and chemicals. They are specifically constructed vessels that can store up to 20 litres (5 gallons) of fluids and exist in 2 varieties: steel metal (10 litres) and plastic (20 litres) (5 litres).
- When it comes to chemical transportation, ISO tank containers are being viewed as a less expensive, more sustainable, and ecologically friendly alternative to drums and IBCs.
- Flexi tank containers are typical 20-foot containers used to carry bulk non-hazardous liquids like culinary oils. In 2017, it is expected that around 800,000 flexi tank containers were carried. Flexi tank containers have become a viable option for shippers (transportation) because of their low cost.
Chemical Storage and Packaging
Along this blog we have firstly discussed the risks that entails handling chemicals and hazardous products to both human health and the environment. A proper way of identifying these products and labeling them was highly encouraged to proceed to transporting and packaging guidelines. These measures are mainly focused on preventing accidents and freight spills.
Nevertheless, we have elaborated a second part for blog in which we will be discussing the requirements to ensure safety at the workplace, planning behavioral rules when handling chemicals and finally we will offer you an emergency plan to proceed safely when an incident occurs. This second entry is focused on the workplace’s security and safety and we highly encourage you to not miss it!
The chemical industry entails a number of risks, but no more than you could expect from any other kind of business. As simple as it may sound, a restaurant owner for example, bears a great responsibility in keeping their products fresh, a spotless workplace and clean tools to prevent food intoxication. Closely following the given measures, you will assure a safe environment for your employees and surroundings.
Camachem ensures the safety of its products at all times, giving special attention to packaging. Please contact us if you are interested in purchasing high quality chemicals or would like to receive a free sample of a desired product.