Importance of Accurate Inventories for Health and Safety
An accident or incident in the workplace can be dangerous enough at the outset, such as creating an explosion which causes injury or death to those unlucky enough to be nearby. However, not only is this a risk which needs to be considered and countered against through health and safety training and the introduction of dependable safety features, but there are also a high number of dangers which are caused by substances coming into contact with each other in the aftermath of the incident, when they would otherwise be kept completely separate.
A thorough risk assessment carried out before the incident will not only have identified the possibilities for substances to interact in the event of different kinds of incidents, but should also have started the process of creating suitable control measures designed to mitigate and prevent the substances coming into contact with each other in the event of an emergency, including:
- The creation of bunds to contain liquids
- Automatic shut-off valves to stop the flow of gases or liquids
- Blast-proof and/or fire-proof walls and doors of hazardous substance storage areas to prevent escape and contamination
The Importance of Accurate Inventories
The potential size and scale of an incident like an explosion will depend greatly upon the quantity of substances which happen to be stored on the premises. A large amount of hazardous gases or liquids can create a much more dangerous incident in terms of the area covered and therefore the number of people affected. For this reason, companies should try and minimise the amount of hazardous material they have on the premises as far as possible without disrupting operations.
As an incident unfolds and the emergency services are called in, it will be extremely important for them to know exactly what they are dealing with in terms of the specific substances hazardous to health and also in what quantities as this will affect critical decisions such as whether the site is safe enough to enter at all, and the required safety cordon which is needed around the location.
In order to provide this information correctly, an accurate inventory needs to be maintained at all times. Logging the inflows and outflows of substances will enable the company to know exactly how much of each hazardous substance is currently being stored on the premises. This information can then quickly and easily be given to the fire brigade or other incident response team so that informed decisions can be made. This will assist in maintaining the health and safety of everybody nearby, including the emergency service personnel themselves, to prevent an incident getting potentially far worse in terms of endangering health and damaging the surrounding environment.
Related Link: COSHH Training
Of course the number one priority and intention is to prevent accidents and incidents occurring in the first place. The provision of health and safety training to employees is a significant component of this goal. Where hazardous substances are involved, providing bespoke COSHH training to employees teaches and provides them with safety information regarding the substances which they may be exposed to in their place of work. By understanding exactly what they are dealing with and how they can stay safe and minimise the potential for accidents as far as is reasonably practical, the chances of them or somebody else being killed, injured or made ill can be materially lowered.