Managing hazardous substances

How to store hazardous substances


If you use or handle substances that pose a risk to human health, you must comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). These regulations require you to control exposure to hazardous substances.

You should also assess the risks of storing and handling substances hazardous to the environment as well as human health. For instance, consider the effects of a leak to the air, water and surrounding land. This can help you to avoid being prosecuted for causing pollution.

Simple steps to control the risks of hazardous substances include:

  • following the manufacturer's instructions on the safety data sheet when storing chemicals
  • keeping the minimum quantity of hazardous substances necessary
  • storing incompatible substances separately
  • preventing release or leaks
  • training employees to store and handle hazardous substances properly
  • labelling storage containers properly
  • storing flammable substances in suitable containers away from sources of ignition, such as boilers and heaters
  • placing stores of liquid above ground where they're unlikely to be damaged, for example away from driveways
  • maintaining gauges, valves and pipework
  • having procedures for dealing with emergency leaks
  • using a secondary containment system such as a drip tray or bund (a storage area designed to prevent liquids escaping)
  • monitoring oil use - unexpectedly high use may indicate a leak