Ammonium nitrate is a chemical that’s easy to obtain and safe to handle but storing it improperly can have deadly consequences. The chemical compound, best known for its use as an agricultural fertilizer, will absorb moisture over time, which can cause granules to stick to one another. If exposed to heat, that mass of ammonium nitrate could explode. 

Between 1921 and 2020, there were twenty-one recorded instances of ammonium nitrate explosions that killed people. Six of them resulted in more than 100 casualties, including two that took nearly 600 lives. And that doesn’t begin to cover the injuries and property damage that ensued. 

When you partner with WSI for your chemical storage needs, the first thing we will ask you to present is a safety data sheet for the chemical(s) you want us to handle. 

What is a Safety Data Sheet (SDS)? 

Safety data sheets are forms that provide pertinent information about chemical products as determined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They tell the chemical handler how to safely handle the product and some emergency response procedures in case of a spill. 

The types of information that an SDS asks for include: 

  • The identity of the chemical and manufacturer’s contact information 
  • The physical properties of the chemical 
  • Information about a chemical’s composition and ingredients 
  • Any hazards a chemical may pose 
  • Safe handling and storage practices 
  • First aid and firefighting instructions in the event of an accident 
  • Clean-up measures in case of a spill 
  • Personal protection measures in the event of exposure 
  • Chemical stability and reactivity 
  • The toxicological and health impact of a chemical 
  • Disposal and transportation information 


Why Are Safety Data Sheets Important for a 3PL Partnership? 

This matters for a few reasons. The first reason is to ensure proper storage. Some chemicals need to maintain a certain distance from other substances. Others might require temperature or humidity control. Even the volume of a chemical that’s being stored can impact storage requirements. 

It’s important to note not all chemicals are dangerous. Sometimes it’s as simple as preventing baby powder or pancake mix from clumping. As your 3PL partner, we need to know what your chemical product requires. 

There is also workers’ safety to consider. We never want to jeopardize anyone’s life or health by asking them to handle flammables or explosives without realizing it or leave them without proper first aid protocols.  

Finally, there is the safety of the communities around us. Another aspect of responsible warehousing is preventing leaks or explosions from reaching the neighborhoods around us. To that end, WSI is a member of the National Association of Chemical Distributors’ Responsible Distribution program. Becoming a Responsible Care partner is a reflection of our commitment to continuous improvement in environmental, health, and safety standards. We submit to annual NACD audits to ensure that our facilities meet the mark for safety standards. 


Preparing a Safety Data Sheet 

Most manufacturer’s chemists will have the bulk of the necessary information – flashpoint, boiling point, combustibility – readily available.  

But occasionally, the circumstances are less straightforward. Some companies overseas do not have the same regulations as in the United States, your SDS can be outdated, or you may think other forms can work as a substitute. 

No matter your circumstances, we will need an approved safety data sheet from you. OSHA rules stipulate it. We understand that compiling a safety data sheet can sometimes be difficult, and WSI is happy to connect you with whatever resources you need to complete one. 

Here you can find OSHA’s guide for creating an SDS and their standards for communication about hazardous chemicals. 

Even if safety data sheets weren’t a federal requirement, they would still be a prerequisite to working with us. It’s the only way that we can maintain our level of service while keeping our workers and neighbors safe. 


Still have questions? Let’s talk!  

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