"How to use Safety Cabinets to make storage of workplace materials safer and more efficient."October 16, 2009 by Mike Strawbridge
Safe storage of materials is a critical component of any workplace safety plan. Proper storage will also increase productivity in the workplace.
Certain chemicals such as flammable liquids have very specific storage requirements and require special safety cabinets to properly store these items. Typically flammable liquid safety cabinets are painted bright yellow and are constructed of steel or other strong, flame resistant material. They will have adequate ventilation so that explosive vapors are not likely to collect inside the safety cabinet.
Another workplace material that requires special storage or safety cabinets are oxygen and acetylene storage containers used for cutting and welding operations. The oxygen and acetylene compressed gas cylinders in storage must be separated by a minimum distance or separated by an insulating barrier. These requirements can be met by using commercially available safety cabinets or by building your own safety storage cabinets once you understand the requirements.
The active cylinders may be kept together on a single cart but should be turned off at the cylinder bottle when not actually in use.
Chemically reactive materials such as acids and strong bases should be stored in safety cabinets designed specifically for the purpose of storing such materials. Acids and strong bases must be stored separately. The material of construction for a reactive chemical safety cabinet must be compatible with the material stored. Stainless steel and some plastics work well for safety storage cabinets. Even mild steel safety cabinets can be used if the steel is coated with an acid resistant finish.
In my experience painted safety cabinets will have to be replaced every few years due to the constant exposure to corrosive vapors and inevitable spills.
Sharp items like cutting tools need their own special safety cabinets as well. These can be constructed of wood or other strong material. The layout of the safety cabinet must be such that the contents can be easily retrieved without inflicting injury. If careful consideration is made to the design on the hangers or storage bins, extra wrapping of the sharp tools can be minimized. The design of the safety cabinet should be such that the contents are easily visible and the tools can be placed into storage and removed form the safety cabinet by handling the non sharp end of the tool.
Safe storage of workplace materials in specially designed safety cabinets creates a more productive workplace because employees will always know where to get the materials they need. They will be able to retrieve the materials they need quickly without having to worry about injury during the retrieval process. Therefore, they can get on with the task of making profitable output instead of searching for materials or protective clothing to clean up a spill.
Mike Strawbridge October 16, 2009
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