Compliance & Considerations When Managing Chemical & Hazardous Material Warehousing

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Warehousing and transportation of Hazardous Materials is big business in the U.S.  According to U.S. Department of Transportation, as of Fall 2022, Hazardous Materials shipments account for 12% of all freight tonnage shipped within the United States.  To put that into perspective, that equates to roughly 3.3 billion tons of hazardous materials shipped every year, worth an estimated $1.9 trillion.

All in all, there are around 1 million shipments of hazardous materials every day in the U.S. and 100% of these shipments touch a warehouse along the way.  This is why compliance, safety and proper handling are so critical for the success of Hazardous Material warehouse.  

Hazardous materials require extra safety precautions for both the storage site and active employees.  Different materials require different safety measures and storage environments to keep them safe and maintain their efficacy.  Warehouses are designed and constructed to meet specific safety standards, and they must have trained personnel who are familiar with the safe handling of hazardous materials.

Some of the types of hazardous materials that are stored in hazmat warehouses include flammable liquids, corrosives, and explosives. These materials can be dangerous if they are not handled properly, so it is important to store them in a safe and secure environment.

Compliance Requirements for Hazmat Warehouse Storage

There are several compliance requirements that must be met for hazmat warehouse storage. These requirements vary depending on the type of hazardous material being stored. However, some common compliance requirements include:

  • Warehouse must be designed and constructed to meet specific safety standards as to be in a safe area that is away from potential hazards, such as high-traffic areas, major transportation routes, and areas that are prone to flooding or earthquakes.

  • The facility must be constructed with fire-resistant materials and must have a sprinkler system that is specifically designed for hazardous materials.

  • A Hazmat Warehouse must have separate storage areas for different types of hazardous materials, and these areas must be clearly marked and labeled.

  • Building must have proper ventilation.  Ventilation is key to prevent the buildup of hazardous gases or fumes.

  • Emergency procedures must be documented, audited and updated as need on a consistent schedule,  in place in the event of a fire or other emergency.

  • The Hazmat Warehouse must have trained personnel who are familiar with the safe handling of hazardous materials.

Inventory Management:

Hazardous materials inventory management is the process of tracking the location, quantity, and expiration dates of hazardous materials in a warehouse. This is essential to ensure that the materials are stored safely and securely, and that they are not expired or damaged.

There are several benefits to having effective hazardous materials inventory management:

  • Increased safety: By tracking the location and quantity of hazardous materials, you can ensure that they are stored in the correct areas and that there are no dangerous accumulations. This can help to prevent accidents and injuries.

  • Reduced liability: By having accurate records of hazardous materials, you can reduce your liability exposure in the event of an accident.

  • Improved compliance: By tracking the expiration dates of hazardous materials, you can ensure that they are disposed of properly and that you are in compliance with all applicable regulations.

  • Increased efficiency: By having a good system for tracking hazardous materials, you can improve the efficiency of your warehouse operations.

Factors to consider when implementing hazardous materials inventory management:

  • The type of hazardous materials being stored: The type of hazardous materials will determine the specific requirements for inventory management. For example, some materials may require special labeling or storage conditions.

  • The size of the warehouse: The size of the warehouse will affect the type of inventory management system that is needed. For small warehouses, a simple spreadsheet may be sufficient. For larger warehouses, a more sophisticated system may be required.

  • The frequency of inventory audits: The frequency of inventory audits will depend on the size of the warehouse and the type of hazardous materials being stored. For small warehouses, audits may only be needed once a year. For larger warehouses, audits may be needed more frequently.

Here are some tips for implementing effective hazardous materials inventory management:
  • Use a barcode system: A barcode system can help you to track the location and quantity of hazardous materials quickly and easily.

  • Implement a system for tracking expiration dates: This will help you to ensure that hazardous materials are disposed of properly and that you are following all applicable regulations.

  • Conduct regular inventory audits: This will help you to identify any discrepancies in your inventory records and to ensure that hazardous materials are being stored safely and securely.

  • Train your employees on the safe handling of hazardous materials: This will help to prevent accidents and injuries.

In conclusion, Hazmat warehouse storage is an important part of managing hazardous materials safely and securely. By using a good hazmat warehousing provider, you can reduce your risk of accidents, improve your compliance with regulations, and increase the efficiency of your supply chain.

 

Author Bio:  Doug Draper, Director of Business Development, Inland Star Distribution Centers

Doug started his supply chain career in 1995 with Airborne Express and transitioned to freight forwarding, truck brokerage and warehouse services.  He’s now am ESOP owner with the Inland Star Distribution Team providing 3PL solutions for clients.  (www.inlandstar.com)  Doug is passionate about supply chain education and helping the next generation of Logisticians.  Doug is a 17 year advocate, fundraiser and organizer of Operation Stimulus.  A logistics case competition for college students obtaining degrees in Supply Chain Management. 

Doug has started three companies, hosts two industry podcast; Global Trade This Week and Uptime Logistics and lives in Colorado with his wife and 2 children.