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A new chemical storage guide published by Safe Work Australia will help small to medium businesses who don't have major chemical stores or expertise in managing the associated risks to learn about safe chemical storage.

Even when not in use, chemicals can still pose a risk. Flammable and oxidising chemicals may cause or contribute to a fire, corrosive chemicals can injure people and damage property and structures they come into contact with, and toxic chemicals can poison people who are exposed to them. Compressed gases can also suffocate or poison workers if they leak.

In addition, some chemicals are not compatible with one another. When incompatible chemicals mix they may:

  • ignite or explode
  • release toxic, flammable or corrosive gases
  • corrode chemical containers, causing them to leak.

It's important that you identify which chemicals are incompatible and ensure that hazardous chemicals are stored safely in a way that:

  • minimises the chance of any incidents and reactions
  • reduces the chance of them contributing to or worsening an incident.

The Managing Risks of Storing Chemicals in the Workplace guide outlines some of the common health and safety risks of storing chemicals in the workplace and shows ways to safely identify and manage those risks.

Useful tools include:

  • a storage checklist to help develop and inspection program for your storage area
  • a segregation chart with broad advice about the types of chemicals that should be separated and the minimum separation required.

Further information

To find out more about managing the risks of using, handling and storing hazardous chemicals in the workplace, including your work health and safety duties, refer to the Code of Practice: Managing Risks of Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace.

The Classifying Hazardous Chemicals – national guide is intended for manufacturers and importers of substances, mixtures and articles who have a duty under work health and safety laws to classify them. It may also useful for suppliers, PCBUs, workers and anyone else involved with hazardous chemicals.