Plastic Storage Drum

8 Tips for Safely Handling Chemicals in a Plastic Storage Drum

Nobody wants to have to clean up a mess—and, when you're dealing with shipping chemicals, the mess can be quite difficult, dangerous and costly to clean up. Thus, prevention is always the way to go.
Using a plastic 55-gallon chemical drum or 15-gallon chemical drum to ship industrial chemicals is a popular shipment option. These plastic drums are among our most popular items, so we think it's important that our customers have the best information available on how to safely store, transport and dispense chemicals from them. Keep these eight tips in mind when dealing with chemicals in a plastic drum to help foster a safe and productive working environment.

1. Know which chemicals can't be stored in HDPE drums.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) storage drums are a great option for most chemicals because they're resistant to nearly every common substance. However, some highly corrosive and reactive chemicals still shouldn't be stored in these drums.

2. Learn safety procedures in detail and keep copies of the Emergency Response Guidebook on hand.

There's no substitute for a thorough and in-depth knowledge of relevant safety procedures. The Emergency Response Guidebook is an especially important document, as it provides detailed instructions on how to respond to various types of hazmat incidents.

3. Make sure all drums are properly labeled.

Knowledge is power, and proper labeling will give employees the knowledge and the power to handle chemical drums safely. Read up on the GHS chemical labeling requirements to learn if your chemicals are considered hazardous and if they require hazmat labels for their shipping barrels. If hazmat labels and declarations are required, make sure that you've also filled out hazmat shipper's declaration forms for your carrier.

4. Only buy reconditioned drums from a company that uses a thorough reconditioning process.

Reconditioned plastic drums can save you a considerable amount of money, but you don't want to sacrifice quality in the process. Thus, reconditioned drums should only be purchased from a qualified supplier DPI Recyclers. We use the latest techniques to clean our drums thoroughly and make sure they're free of residue.

5. Keep safety equipment like spill trays and salvage drums ready in case of an emergency.

Having proper safety equipment can make all the difference in an emergency situation. Thus, you should always keep key equipment such as spill containment racks and salvage drums ready to contain a spill at a moment's notice. You should also check which fire extinguishers are compatible with the types of materials you store and have the correct type on hand.

6. Make sure that drums are completely sealed before shipping them.

Plastic shipping drums generally use one of two types of sealing mechanism: open-head and closed-head. No matter which one you're using, it's critical to check the sealing mechanism on your drums before they go out the door. Seals should fit tightly and have no leaks. Even a small one can quickly become a bigger one, so it's important to keep a zero-tolerance policy in effect.

7. Use the proper tools to safely dispense chemicals out of a drum.

When you're dispensing the chemical contents of a drum, you need to have the right materials on hand to do it correctly. Before you begin, you should make a checklist of what accessories you'll need, including funnels, pumps, faucets and a bung wrench to open bung-style drums. If your substance is a liquid that requires warming before being decanted, check out our easy-to-use bucket and drum heaters as well.

8. Inspect your drums regularly to ensure that they're functioning correctly.

Regular inspections of plastic drums in storage should be as much a part of warehouse operations as standard practices like taking inventory. It's much better to discover a leak or other issue early so that it can be fixed before it becomes an unpleasant (and possibly dangerous) surprise.

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