Handling and storing of chemicals
Always use care and caution when handling chemicals. Find out what the effects of chemicals used in your company are on health and the environment. Train your employees with regard both to the normal handling of chemicals and in problem situations. Take care of the necessary official permits and notifications and find out about any restrictions well in advance.
According to the Chemicals Act, your business’s priority is to select chemicals suitable for your needs that cause as little as possible danger to health and the environment. The use of some chemicals may be restricted or prohibited and the use of some chemicals requires a permit.
As an entrepreneur you should be aware of the effects of chemicals used in your company. Find out what emissions or other accidents or damage to the environmental and health may be caused through the use of chemicals. Try to prevent harmful effects caused by the chemicals.
All employees in your company must exercise sufficient care and caution when handling chemicals. The more hazardous the chemical, the more care is required. The use of even hazardous chemicals is safe if they are handled appropriately.
When you purchase chemicals for your business, ensure that the supply corresponds to your order. The safety data sheet that is supplied with a chemical shows its composition and characteristics, and gives handling instructions. Do not use of hazardous chemicals in your company, which do not have the proper material safety data sheets (MSDS) and whose warning labels are deficient.
According to the Chemical Safety Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act, as an entrepreneur you must instruct and train the employees in your company in the safe handling of chemicals that are used. During the training, pay special attention to the prevention of accidents (emissions, fires, explosions) and damage. Appoint people to be responsible for all activities that involve handling chemicals.
Keep chemicals’ safety data sheets so they are always easily available for your employees. Draw up specific work instructions or safety cards for chemicals. They must show the hazards of the chemicals, ways people can be exposed to them and the measures to be taken into account when handling chemicals to avoid accident situations. Always keep the instructions up-to-date.
Ensure that your employees know how to prevent chemical accidents. Train them to act correctly in the event of chemical damage and accidents and organise exercises in order to ensure they act safely. Teach your employees to use and look after the necessary personal protective equipment when handling chemicals.
The extent to which chemicals are handled and stored in your company and consequently the possible obligation to apply for permits or submit notifications are determined according to the amount of chemicals (in storage and in the equipment) in your company. You can use the instructions and the calculator of the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) or the KemiDigi service to determine the extent and your obligations.
If handling is small scale and subject to notification, inform the local rescue authority at least one month before operations start. The authority will determine the conditions under which your company may process chemicals. It will also inspect your chemical safety before you can start operations.
If the processing is large scale, apply for permits from Tukes in good time. Attach your internal emergency rescue plan and, if necessary, a document on your principles of operation. If required, you must also provide Tukes with a safety assessment of chemical handling in your company. Draw up a Safety Notice for local residents, if your operation requires a principles of operation or a safety assessment document.
Submit a chemicals notification to Tukes about the hazardous chemicals your company uses. You can use Tukes KemiDigi service for submitting your notifications. If your company handles chemicals that are on the EU’s list of substances subject to authorisation, check that your supply chain has the necessary permits and submit a notification that you are using such chemicals or apply for a permit yourself from the European Chemicals Agency. If your company manufactures chemical substances, register them with the European Chemicals Agency.
When you are planning bulk storage of chemicals, first specify what chemicals your company intends to store, for how long and how the storage will be organised. Identify the hazards related to chemicals you handle, and take these into account in the planning, implementation and operation of the storage. Remember that chemicals may not normally be stored in groundwater areas. Please also take into consideration the inhabitants of the surrounding area and people travelling in the area.
Store chemicals only in the location intended for storage. The storage facilities must be located away from your company's production and other premises. Take into account the requirements relating to chemicals for buildings, such as fire resistance. Plan carefully for rescue related issues, such as alarm systems, access to water for firefighting and escape routes.
Store chemicals in containers that meet the requirements and that have warning labels. Ensure that chemicals that react together in a dangerous manner are kept separate from each other. Store inflammable chemicals separately from others.
Install appropriate surveillance equipment and personal protective equipment in the storage area. Ensure the temperature is suitable, that there is sufficient ventilation, access control and security.
You should also obtain the equipment suitable for first response firefighting and rescue and place them in the vicinity of the areas where they will be used. Ensure there is a leak management system in place in the storage areas to prevent any leakage into the sewage system or the environment.
Always keep your chemical storage premises clean and tidy. Have a systematic approach to ensuring the maintenance and functioning of equipment.