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.
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.
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.
- Ensure appropriate exposure controls are in place, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where required, when handling the sample bag/container with known or unconfirmed substances (including those which contain gas forming compounds).
- Refer to the following Codes of Practice, and relevant SDS, for the safe handling of hazardous chemicals.