Error #7 – Problems with Hazardous Materials Reporting and Storage

 

In the great battle between Murphy’s law and safety regulations, we have some strong allies. While fires are lurking in electrical wiring and potentially explosive chemicals, we have building codes and fire codes that help lower our risk. Even if our safety efforts are good, an accident may still occur. But, we have fire code reporting already in place so that response teams can be really efficient. Together, we can rally against Murphy’s law with preparedness and safety research.

Some of the smartest minds of our country are working on the issue of safety. Thousands of safety engineers and related professionals are meeting in Las Vegas at Safety 2013, the conference of the year for EH&S folks. ChemSW will be there to showcase our chemical inventory management software, CISPro™. Hazardous materials reporting and storage is a crucial line of defense in lab safety, but we still see issues in labs across the country. This is the seventh post in a series about the top eight chemical management errors.

A few months ago, Lab Manager Magazine hosted a best practices chemical inventory webinar for lab managers and EH&S professionals. Our very own Jon Webb from ChemSW talked us through the common errors in lab management and solutions to save the lab much needed resources. Here is #7.

 

When chemicals Are Stored Incorrectly, It’s A Lose-Lose Situation

Labels are sometimes the source of the storage problem. There are already labeling requirements from OSHA, and the new GHS system is rolling out an expanded labeling system. They call this the Right to Understand. Without a strong labeling and tracking system, inaccurate information about what chemicals are on site give Murphy’s Law a leg up in the lab.

 

 

Without proper labels, lab personnel may put chemicals away in the wrong control area. This puts everyone at risk. Lab personnel need to know what personal protective gear to wear with each hazardous material. College students, as newbies to the lab, may need a reminder that summer clothes aren’t necessarily lab ready. In the worst-case scenario, such as a fire, it will be difficult to provide an accurate inventory list complete with safety data sheets. Emergency responders need the best possible information about a chemical site in order to do their awesome work saving lives, property and research.

In chemical labs, a chemical inventory system that includes bar coding and tracking can generate real-time inventory lists. It’s in the best interest of lab managers, facility benefactors, and emergency responders to know what chemicals are on site, where they are, how much is left, and what the hazards are. Who wouldn’t want to know all that glorious information?

 

 

If the lab can provide all this information in the event of an emergency, then that is an advantage when seeking insurance compensation. In the webinar, Jon Webb recalls a terrible situation where a lab fire started and there was no inventory list. Emergency responders had to let the facility burn to the ground rather than risk interacting with unknown hazardous materials. Insurance also may not cover damages that occur because a lab was out of compliance with fire codes. We can fight Murphy’s Law together with real-time accurate inventory lists.

ChemSW provides several inventory solutions, and we have excellent customer service. If you’re attending Safety 2013 next week, please stop by our booth to say hi. We also hope you check out our website and give us a call with any questions!

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