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Handling and storage of substances in sample bags/containers

Safety Alert
3 March 2015

There have been instances where workers have been exposed to unsafe situations as a result of inadvertent contact with substances stored in sample bags/containers which have deteriorated during prolonged storage.

Risk control measures

For the safe collection, handling, storage and labelling of sample substances, known or unconfirmed, which could be hazardous or toxic, the following risk control measures must be considered.

Fit for purpose

The sample bag/container to be used must be assessed for material compatibility with the range of substances to be collected and stored.

Shelf life

Review the shelf life of the sample bag/container, in particular the ambient storage condition and its potential reaction with the contents to be stored.

Intended usage

Review the intended usage with respect to the substance (the content) to be stored inside the sample bag/container, including the effect of longer term material degradation and potential chemical reactions.

Those considerations could include the following:

  • What is the expected length of time that the sample substance will be stored in the sample bag/ container?
  • If the substance collected is susceptible to outgassing while inside the sample bag/container, under what conditions and what are these gases? Refer to the relevant Safety Data Sheet (SDS) if substance and sample bag/container material are known.
  • Ensure correct labelling on the sample bag/container containing the substance. If known, label it with its proper chemical name once determined by a competent person. If unconfirmed, label as unknown.
  • Check that the environmental conditions are suitable for the correct storage of known or determined substances, and ensure that the contents and the sample bag/container itself do not deteriorate into a condition which may be unsafe.

Safe handling

Disclaimer: While care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and currency of the information in this publication, at the time of reading it may not be sufficiently accurate, current or complete to suit your individual needs. Reliance on the information in this publication is at your own risk. SafeWork SA accepts no liability for any loss resulting from your reliance on it. To best meet your work health and safety obligations refer to current Acts, Regulations and Approved Codes of Practice.