As with any potentially dangerous substances, whenever you are storing pool-related chemicals you need to be very careful. Poorly or incorrectly stored chemicals can cause serious injury to staff, visitors and customers and damage your site, equipment, reputation and the environment.
Furthermore, if you are found to be in breach of the UK government’s Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations – relating to the safe storage of chemicals and designed to protect employees and other people from injury and death caused by dangerous substances — you can be hit with an unlimited fine.
It isn’t difficult to guard against problems, though; you just need to be aware of the risks, plan accordingly and store your chemicals diligently and safely.
Where can you store pool chemicals?
There are three main areas of consideration to be aware of here: first, the security of the chemicals, secondly the stability of the chemicals and, finally, the physical location.
You’ll need a secure area, to make sure that unauthorised staff or members of the public cannot accidentally (or deliberately) come into contact with, steal or misuse your chemicals. Depending on the quantities of chemicals you have on site, this area might be a lockable cabinet or, more likely, a dedicated, lockable storage room.
The area should be cool and dry, as some chemicals can respond badly to extremes of temperature and contact with moisture. Ventilation is just as important, as any build-up of gases could be toxic. Many common pool chemicals are kept in ‘breathable’ containers, so simply putting the lid on firmly will not be sufficient to avoid this.
Different chemicals should also be kept separated and segregated, as any mining can result in dangerous reactions. Keep the containers out of direct sunlight, and away from any heat source (boiler/radiators, pool heating equipment, etc). Pool chemicals can be very corrosive, so you don’t want to keep them near pumps, filters or other equipment that can be damaged in this way.
It might seem slightly counterintuitive, but always keep your pool chemicals stored well away from the actual pool. Contact with even a very small amount of water (just a few drops) can cause gas and heat to build, resulting in a dangerous reaction.
As mentioned earlier, the chemicals need to be kept stable. This means that you’ll more than likely want them to be kept indoors so that things like climate and direct light can be controlled and their impact limited. If indoors is not an option, a watertight external storage locker should be placed in a shady area. Keep the containers off the ground (to better control the temperature and ventilation) but close to ground level to reduce the risk of damage through dropping.
What can you use to store the chemicals?
Be sure to keep your chemicals in the containers that they were delivered to you in. These containers will have been specifically designed for the contents and should therefore be able to safely store and contain the chemicals without risk of degradation.
There are a few problems associated with transferring your chemicals into other containers:
- You introduce an unnecessary element of human error — the new container will need to be accurately and clearly labelled with the contents, full ingredients, relevant warnings, what to do in case of exposure, and expiry dates. All this information is already on the original container.
- If the new container has previously been used for a different chemical you run the risk of a dangerous reaction — some chemicals react badly with water, o even if you have washed out the container, there is still a substantial risk.
- The act of transferring chemicals is potentially hazardous in itself, as the chemical can (and more than likely will) spill, causing injury or damage.
- Some chemicals might react with different container materials such as plastic and metals, forming gases or other potentially harmful compounds.
Be wary of storing liquid chemicals above different substances — any dripping or leakage will quickly become a problem.
Chlorine can become chlorine gas — which is extremely hazardous to health, can react explosively with both ammonia and turpentine, and is a strong oxidant — very easily and very quickly. Keep concentrated chlorine away from all acids as well as any other types of chlorine you have on site.
Always add your chemicals to the largest amount of water possible, to achieve a fast, safe dilution. Adding water to the chemicals can result in dangerous reactions. Make sure that your pool and the area/room around it is clear of people while adding any chemicals, and keep it clear for at least 15 minutes (ideally closer to 30 minutes). Test the water frequently with a decent test kit. The more people that use your pool, the more frequently you should be testing the water.
Be careful when you are using chemicals around skimmers and other pool equipment. Heaters and metallic equipment can quickly become damaged by acids and chlorines, which in turn can lead to gas build-ups and other reactions.
Make sure to check the relevant Health and Safety Executive guidelines and COSHH regulations for your industry, site and the types of chemicals that you use and store. Also, always refer to the information provided with the chemicals themselves for any specific advice and storage/usage instructions. It is best practice to have the relevant guidelines and information for each chemical prominently displayed alongside the chemicals.
Author Bio: First Mats started life as safety matting specialists, but have since expanded to become a complete industrial and commercial supplies company. The focus of First Mats is to provide safety-focused products that improve the wellbeing of staff through quality approved products, backed up by extensive knowledge. www.firstmats.co.uk