Not all hazardous chemicals are flammable.
While petrol may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of dangerous substances, they aren’t the only ones – in fact, the Hazchem system actually has several different categories of dangerous goods.
And some of them aren’t actually dangerous in and of themselves- case in point, oxidising chemicals.
While these chemicals aren’t flammable themselves, they still need hazchem signs, emergency information panels and other workplace safety signs to keep everyone safe around them.
Most importantly, they also require special storage conditions to avoid accidents!
Why’s that though? What makes these particular substances so dangerous?
What are oxidising agents?
The Australian Dangerous Goods Standard describes oxidising agents as “substances which, while in themselves not necessarily combustible, may, generally by yielding oxygen, cause, or contribute to, the combustion of other material.”
While not flammable or explosive themselves, oxidising agents, when combined with an incompatible substance, will react dangerously and can cause a fire.
Simply put, while they aren’t flammable themselves, in the right conditions, they can:
- Increase the volatility of a substance that is flammable
- Create conditions where fires are more likely to begin
- Provide fuel for fires
That’s where the name comes from, actually – oxidising agents in the sense that they create oxygen, which as we all know can fuel fires.
Of course, it isn’t just oxygen. Manure for example gives off methane, a highly flammable gas which can dramatically increase the risk and size of a fire.
It’s because of this risk that proper storage and usage of oxidising agents are a must for chemical, manufacturing and transport industry, especially if you also handle other, more conventional flammable materials.
(Fun fact: this is also why these substances have not just their own hazchem category, but a whole two subcategories!)
How do you store oxidising agents?
Okay, so now you know why storing these substances properly is such a big deal. That brings us to the meat and potatoes of today’s topic: namely, how these substances need to be stored.
So how do you store oxidising agents, then? If using them is simply unavoidable, especially in manufacturing and transporting dangerous goods, then what is the proper way of storing and handling them, anyway?
Luckily for you, our team doesn’t just do workplace safety signs – we’re also hazchem experts ourselves, intimately familiar with different signage – as well as many of the storage – requirements that come with storing oxidising agents.
When it comes to oxidising agents, there are 3 main ways of going about it…
Social distancing isn’t the only type of distancing that’s en vogue right about now – when it comes to storing oxidising agents, it’s just as important!
The Australian Standard requires oxidising agents and incompatible substances and goods that carry an explosion or fire risk to be stored separately.
Specifically, AS3833-2008 requires oxidising agents to be “segregated by at least 5 meters and kept in separate compounds that don’t share a common drainage system.”
Of course, this is only the bare minimum – depending on the substances in question, the separation distance may be much further. Ideally, you’ll store them much farther apart from one another, just in case.
In an ideal world, you’ll take your segregation efforts even further, with designated storage areas (market out with appropriate workplace safety signs, naturally) as well as…
Chemical storage cabinets
Chemical storage cabinets aren’t your usual cabinets – these are specially-designed to hold chemicals safely, including oxidising agents.
According to the Australian Standard, oxidising agent storage cabinets need to be completely sealed. Moreover, they also need built-in ventilation that vents fumes into the air away from ignition sources, and their doors need to be openable in the event of a pressure build-up.
These standards also dictate how these cabinets need to be put together – specifically, chemical storage cabinets need:
- Double-walled sheet sheet metal in the walls, floors and roofs
- A 40mm gap between both metal layers (either an air gap or insulation)
- Door catches and hinges that aren’t made of plastic or zinc
- Ventilation that directs fumes into the atmosphere whenever possible
- To be installed away from public places (if possible, outside)
Finally, these cabinets need to be painted with the appropriate colour for the hazchem class of the chemicals inside – in the case of oxidising agents, yellow. And naturally, you’ll need to place the appropriate hazchem safety signs on as well!
Speaking of which…
Oxidising agent labels and signages
Since oxidising agents are considered to be dangerous substances, proper safety signage is an absolute must when it comes to safe handling and storage.
Signs need to be hung up that classify substances as oxidising agents so that anyone who will use, store and transport them will know what they’re dealing with.
Your chemical storage cabinets will need to be properly labelled with signs identifying the hazchem class of the substances inside (class 5, in the case of oxidising agents) as well as danger signs listing the potential hazards.
Another good idea is to hang up signs listing prohibited behaviour.
Since we’re talking about oxidising agents here, that means prohibiting potential ignition sources within a certain distance.
And of course, you can’t forget about the importance of slapping labels and stickers on any containers that may have oxidising agents within.
How our sign experts can help you reduce the risk that comes with using oxidising agents
With proper workplace safety signs, that’s how!
While there are many ways to ensure that oxidising agents are stored safely, one of the most basic ways (and which often gets overlooked) is the humble safety sign.
They may not be the most impressive measure, but they play an important role in keeping your team safe around oxidising chemicals. As such, they can’t be overlooked, nor can you get away with cutting corners here.
And it isn’t just the obvious types of workplace health and safety signs, either.
Beyond just hazchem signs and danger signs mounted to your chemical storage cabinets or emergency information panels attached to containers, it’s important that you have signs that communicate proper usage, disposal, and storage of oxidising agents.
For example, if you have a unique safety procedure, you need to make sure everyone knows what to do – one way of communicating all of that is with a custom safety sign that lists every step of your emergency procedure.
Workplace safety starts with Signsmart
A safer workplace starts with the right signs.
And getting the right signs starts by choosing the right supplier.
Whether it’s signs for an entire site or a simple one-off order to replace a sign that’s worn-out beyond comprehension, our team of sign experts ensure that you get high-quality signs and labels for all your business requirements.
We make ordering your signs and labels easy and convenient – in just one click, the signs you need will be on the way.
This ease-of-use extends to custom safety signs as well – either send us a mockup of what you want your signs to look like, or simply just send us an email with what you want printed and we’ll do the rest!
Call Signsmart today on (03) 9687 3050 and tell us exactly what you need!