04/12/2017 | Author / Editor: Marc Platthaus* / Dr. Jörg Kempf
There are different technical and administrative requirements on the one side for active storage of chemicals and on the other side for passive storage of chemicals. When do we refer to active storage and when to passive storage? Discover, what is important for safe hazardous substance storage in this article.
Transferring dichloromethane from a canister to a smaller storage bottle — such or similar processes are performed thousands of times each day in laboratories around the world. But what to watch out for when they wish to do this properly in accordance with the safety standards?
One major factor is knowing the difference between active and passive storage. According to item 2.6 of the Explosion Protection Portal of the BG RCI: “During passive storage [...], containers are tightly closed and may not be filled or emptied or opened for any reason while they are being stored.”
Examined more closely, it becomes clear that passive storage of flammable liquids is more the exception than the rule. For this reason, users should also familiarise themselves with the regulations for active storage of flammable and hazardous substances: As soon as active storage is performed, you must not only take into account TRGS (Technical Rules for Hazardous Substances) 526 and TRGS 510 Annex 3 in your risk assessment and the associated explosion protection documents, as well as requirements from the TRGS 509, TRBS 2153 and EN 60079-10.
For active storage, a connection to industrial ventilation and the careful monitoring of safety cabinets are mandatory, preventing the formation of explosive atmospheres and ignition hazards. To incorporate these features, safety storage cabinets from Düperthal offer effective ventilation:
? Mr Völk, active or passive storage — Is this topic given due attention in your opinion?
Christian Völk: Active storage in conjunction with safety storage cabinets was not given any special attention for many years. In practice — in particular for disposal — active storage took place to a not inconsiderable extent, but legally this always remained a grey area. Many users and operators may not even be aware that as soon as filling or transferral takes place or a container is not closed, this is already a case of active storage. Consequently the optimum technical measures were not always implemented or taken into account in the risk assessment. Since Düperthal became the first producer to present cabinet lines and certified cabinet solutions specifically for active storage, interest in the awareness for this issue has constantly grown.
? Documentation plays an important role in safety concepts. What does that mean for hazardous substance storage?
Völk: The introduction of the Industrial Safety Regulation and the subsequent technical regulations (TRGS) provided operators with greater flexibility in dealing with hazardous substances. However, by the same token this also leads to greater individual responsibility to design workplaces in such a manner that the safety of the staff is guaranteed. In risk assessment this includes precise documentation of the strategy for protecting employees and describing protective measures. Here it is helpful if the work equipment used consists of safety products which have already been tested and certified by independent bodies.
? How can staff ensure that they stay on the safe side when storing hazardous substances? Do you have any tips?
Völk: We recommend the use of approved system solutions in laboratory and production. These are ideally tailored to the processes on site and include many features which are required for active storage: exhaust air monitoring, object and air curtain extraction, conductive surfaces on both the inside and outside, earthing connections and much more. System solutions can also be regarded as fully tested units in the risk assessment. In particular the comprehensive product documentation, including certificates from independent technical experts, such as TÜV Süd, are a major benefit here. As an option to optimise the process chain and documentation we offer solutions with network capability.
Exhaust air control is implemented by the new Smart Control with touch display, which provides a fill level monitor to prevent overfilling. When canisters are used to dispose of solvent waste, these should be made of conductive material, and it should be possible to equip them with sensors — float probes or capacitive sensors — for level monitoring.
Conductive canisters display their benefits especially when they are exchanged. In addition to level monitoring and extraction, optimal earthing is an important factor to prevent hazardous substances from igniting. Here the user should ensure that an integrated earthing concept is employed: conductive surfaces inside and outside, the connection of all electrically conductive metal components and potential connection at the rear wall or cabinet roof belong to such a concept.
Düperthal offers these features, for example, in the Disposal UTS ergo line and the Disposal Bench line as a certified system solution for handling a wide range of chemicals.
These examples show how important it is for operators to concern themselves with hazardous substance storage. Also with a view to sustainability. Because only a safe workplace in an ecologically and economically designed working environment is sustainable.
* The author is the editor-in-chief of our publication LABORPRAXIS.
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