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Chemical Warehousing Guide

December 23, 2020 Chemical

Chemicals come in various forms when manufactured for commercial and general use applications. Each type requires specialized care when handled, as a chemical warehousing guide for logistics must be followed to limit risks to workers.

Chemical warehousing plays a vital role in the supply chain. These chemicals must be stored in the correct manner based on the size of the container, its weight, and the type of chemicals that are stored. Not every company has the warehouse capabilities or know-how to store these chemicals on a short-term or long-term basis before being shipped.

Also, local, state, and government regulations have made strict and explicit regulations regarding the storage and transportation of chemicals. This is so that freight can move safely to destinations without creating hazards to workers, drivers, or the public.

Chemical Warehouse Hazards and Regulations

While other products and materials can be stacked and placed in the same picking zones as other goods — even some with similar uses — many chemicals cannot have the same storage procedures. Each chemical is placed into its classification based on the composition and hazards that can be inflicted if the chemical is released from its packaging.

Some chemicals are flammable. A tiny spark caused by heat or even static electricity can make the container explode. Other chemicals, such as gases, will be under immense pressure inside containers that could explode if mishandled. Others may have corrosive, toxic, or poisonous qualities.

Hazmat incidents can occur in warehouse environments. From an intermediate bulk container (IBC) dropping to the floor after being improperly stacked to bags filled with chemical pellets that are reactive to heat being stored by a glass window, these instances can cause extreme danger that could lead to injuries, deaths, and regulatory fines.

Many organizations and agencies monitor and audit facilities to ensure procedures adhere to compliance standards. Chemical warehouse operations will also need to receive certification from many regulatory and transportation bodies. These organizations include the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA provides clear regulatory guidance concerning chemical storage and transportation, such as its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) guidelines, and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).

Other organizations and regulatory bodies that may be involved are:

  • U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)
  • International Maritime Organization (IMO) – International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) codes
  • International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Chemical Warehousing Services

To understand chemical warehousing services, you need to know how chemicals may arrive at the warehouse. Many chemical and liquid manufacturers have automated operations to limit the amount of contact between workers and chemical packaging. They will have filling and packing machines designed to operate at low and high volumes. These machines are intended to handle a wide variety of packaging containers — including IBCs, drums, totes, bottles, cans, pails, boxes, bags, and super sacks.

These machines will fill containers based on weight, as the containers may already be sitting on pallets. As conveyor belts move the containers to each sub-station, the chemicals are poured or pumped into the containers and tightly sealed with the appropriate lids. Labels are applied as the containers may even be wrapped with stretch film by packaging machines. Then, workers can move the containers with little vibration and shock to trucks headed to warehouse facilities.

Chemical warehouse requirements will take into consideration the requirements of each chemical that arrives and its SDS. There will be designated zones in the warehouse to minimize chemicals encountering other chemicals that could cause HAZMAT accidents, such as nitric acids being kept separate from organic acids. Some areas of the warehouse will also provide temperature-controlled, light-controlled, and moisture-controlled rooms for chemicals that are sensitive to these conditions.

Using a company that understands the special packaging and handling requirements for chemicals not only helps to ensure the safe transport and storage of these goods, but also that chemicals will not be degraded due to poor storage processes. What’s more, many chemicals will arrive at facilities in a manner where they will need to be further processed to be usable, such as chemicals that will have to undergo dilution at a later time to then be put into immediate use. All these factors should be taken into consideration and best practices must be implemented to prevent the chemicals from being contaminated and spoiled.

Industries Requiring Chemical Warehousing

The chemicals manufacturing sector is vast. We normally associate this industry with pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and agricultural industries. Yet there are numerous other companies that work with chemicals such as:

  • Welding
  • Semiconductors
  • Electronics
  • Painting
  • Jewelry-making
  • Automotive
  • Food
  • Health care
  • Plastics manufacturing
  • Transportation

There are also many products that fall under chemical warehouse requirements that we do not typically consider as a chemical industry product. For example, fertilizer purchased at a home improvement store is considered a chemical product. The need for safe and secure chemical warehousing logistics is necessary to receive the right chemicals in the specified quantities without contamination.

Leveraging Chemical Warehousing Services With WSI

After manufacturing chemicals, packaging and storing these volatile products must be taken with extreme care to prevent hazmat accidents or product deterioration. Working with a company that understands the many governing bodies, regulations, and auditing procedures helps to assure your chemicals will be stored and moved safely.

A chemical warehousing company should be able to provide you with information about the layout of its facilities; what safety and storage measures are put in place based on each chemical class; and even what remediation protocols are followed in case a chemical accident occurs.

With WSI, we offer chemical warehousing logistics for every size company located across the country. Our chemical warehousing facilities are compliant with all local, state, and federal regulatory bodies. We have the certifications required to transport chemicals using all transportation modes. For more information regarding our services, contact us today.

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