Use this checklist when you perform your next Chemical Safety Audit to confirm you have satisfied all of the requirements for a safe and regulated environment when dealing with hazardous chemicals.
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Improper handling and storage of hazardous chemicals can result in damages both to life and property, but using a chemical safety audit checklist can prevent that. Read this article to learn more about what common concerns are addressed in the checklist.
A chemical safety checklist is a document used to audit facilities that produce, handle and store chemicals that are considered to be hazardous to humans, properties, and the environment. This safety checklist was created by various government agencies and safety institutions to prevent any undesirable incidents that can cause injury or even death.
These hazardous chemicals are indispensable when creating a lot of essential products. And that is why many governments are unable to totally ban its usage and instead compromise on imposing strict regulations to prevent accidents.
However, even with the imposed regulations on chemical facilities, there are a lot of incidents that have caused severe damage to life and property. One of these incidents is the recent explosion that occurred in Beirut Lebanon which claimed more than 220 lives, injured 6,500 people, and caused an estimated 6.7 billion dollars in damage to the economy.
According to the investigations made, this incident in Lebanon was caused by a fire in a storage warehouse that ignited the adjacent warehouse containing a large amount of ammonium nitrate (nearly 2.7 kilotons). The explosion was so powerful that it was categorized as the third most devastating explosion just below the nuclear bombings in Japan.
Although not all incidents are physically hazardous (which can cause explosions and fires), improper chemical handling and storage can still cause health hazards to workers such as irritation, sensitization, and carcinogenicity. These effects can lead to injuries, permanent physical damage, and even death.
Due to these incidents caused by mishandling or improper storage, government agencies have stepped up their efforts and strictness when conducting a safety audit in the chemical industry. When facilities are deemed to have violated regulations after a thorough chemical plant safety audit, they can be fined up to $20,000 per violation and imprisonment depending on the severity.
Using a chemical safety audit checklist is an effective way to mitigate these risks and prevent incurring losses or penalties due to accidents.
Below are three common concerns during a chemical safety audit. This is referenced from the Joint Safety Advisory of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure (CISA).
During the inspection, the storage of chemicals is the most visible concern because it refers to various physical aspects such as container materials, arrangement, and labels. So here are some points to consider when preparing for the audit:
This common concern in a chemical safety audit checklist pertains to the records of the chemical that are and have been stored inside a warehouse or silo. These inventory reports should be according to the standards set forth by the relevant government agency and other safety institutions.
For example, in the United States, companies that work with hazardous chemicals should submit these reports and records:
Risk Management Program (RMP) applies to companies that handle certain regulated chemicals depending on the facility’s country and the relevant international institutions such as OSHA or HSE.
This program enables swift response during emergencies such as an accidental chemical release or a fire incident. Having a swift response during these types of emergencies will drastically lessen the number of casualties and damage to property.
This program should contain the following details:
As we’ve previously mentioned, Risk Management Program (RMP) is a common concern during chemical safety audits. And as it so happens, OSHA requires those facilities that have a Risk Management Program to conduct incident investigations.
During these incident investigations, OSHA and EPA encourage companies to use root cause analysis because it pinpoints the underlying reason or the systemic reason as to why it happened.
Once the underlying reason for an incident has been identified and resolved, it will prevent similar incidents from happening again. This will result in fewer business interruptions, fewer worker casualties, and prevent unwanted regulatory fines which will save a lot of money for the company. Aside from that, trust can be gained from the workers and customers because it shows how much a company values its employees' welfare.
When conducting a root cause analysis, it is important to keep in mind that there might not only be one root cause for a certain incident. So, it’s important to consider all possible angles and it can be done by asking “what”, “why”, and “how” questions.
For example, let’s consider an incident where a worker gets an injury from handling a hazardous chemical. To discover the root cause, the investigator may need to ask questions such as “what personal protective equipment (PPE) did they use?”, “why did they need to move the chemical?”, and “how was the chemical handled?”.
Aside from asking the right questions, here are some tools that can help improve root cause analysis:
With Lumiform’s audit app you can easily perform a multitude of safety and quality inspections on the go from your smartphone or tablet - online or offline. Create checklists for you and your team to easily collect data which can reduce errors and potential complications easily and effectively.