Material Handling and Storage

Material Handling and Storage

Material handling and storage are also known as SHEMs 8.03 (ST-OMS-316.03) in SABIC.  Within the Obligations of the operation or contractor, must be compliance with requirements such as safety procedures for activities of Material handling and storage. In this blog, we will cover a brief explanation of SHEM 8.03 (ST-OMS-316.03) to increase the knowledge of safety personnel.

You must have good logistical support and know all the instruments and machinery required to perform Material handling and storage. The objective of Material handling and storage is to reduce production costs, increase the efficiency of the material flow, optimize the use of the plant facilities, improve the safety conditions of the operators and workers and increase productivity.

In addition to all the above, there is a very important aspect, such as safety in Material handling and storage, both by machinery and by manual handling. You must know very well the dangers to which workers are exposed when working and know how to act before them. The best and easiest way is the prevention of occupational hazards.  This is very important for the health of the worker and causes the company to be better trained.

Safe Material handling and storage

In a plant or any workplace where material handling and storage activities are carried out, safety procedures must be in place that considers, at least must meet the following requirement (According to SHEM 8.03 (ST-OMS-316.03):

  • A fire alarm should be located inside or near storage facilities.
  • Temporary and permanent storage of all materials must be clean and orderly.
  • Unobstructed access to fire hoses and extinguishers must be provided.
  • Exits and hallways will be kept clear.
  • Storage risks will be reduced by using bins and shelves.
  • Storage shelves must be secured to the floor, to the wall, and secured to each other.
  • Damaged racks must not be used for storage.
  • Stepladders and moving ladders must be available to assist and access material on shelves at high elevations. Employees will not be allowed on the shelves.
  • The storage of flammable liquids in open containers will not be allowed.
  • Items that roll on open shelves must be blocked or wedged. On multiple decks, the heaviest material will be stored on the lower levels.
  • Smoking will be prohibited in storage areas.

Adequate aisles shall be maintained for unobstructed access and movement of firefighting equipment and personnel as required by SABIC. The contractor or operation must comply with the following requirements:

  • Access corridors of at least 1.2 meters will be maintained.
  • Within interior liquid storage areas, main aisles must be a minimum of 2.4 meters wide.
  • The access roads in the outdoor storage areas will have a minimum width of 3.6 meters.

Handling and storage of flammable materials/substances

Some, like hydrogen cyanide and cyanogen, are flammable and toxic. Flammable materials should be stored in places cool enough to prevent accidental ignition if the vapours are mixed with air. Flammable solvent vapours can be heavier than air and travel along the ground to a distant ignition source. It is essential to prohibit smoking and naked flames in places where these solvents are handled or stored.

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The storage area should be located away from any source of heat or risk of fire. Highly flammable substances must be kept separate from strong oxidizing agents and materials capable of spontaneous combustion.

When high-volatility liquids are stored, certified explosion-proof manufacturing electrical appliances and lighting devices must be installed and the generation of naked flames will not be allowed in or near the storage place. Fire extinguishers and inert absorbent materials such as sand will also be available for use in emergencies.

  • Manual fire extinguishers should also be available. Smoking should not be allowed.
  • Smoking matches, lighters, and other spark-producing devices shall not be permitted where flammable liquids are stored, handled, or used.
  • Flammable liquid containers and storage tanks must be affixed with a hazard identification label per the requirements of NFPA 704.
  • Containers of flammable liquids installed for filling must be electrically grounded and bonded to prevent static electricity from causing a spark. Bonding or grounding or both shall be physically applied or ensured by the nature of the installation.
  • During flammable liquid filling operations, a wire bond must be provided between the storage container and the container being filled. The bonding wire must be grounded.
  • The transfer of flammable liquids using air pressure acting directly on the liquid will be prohibited.
  • Flammable liquid tank trucks must be electrically connected and grounded to the loading platform.
  • Employees should not enter manholes, tanks, tank openings, low places, or confined spaces (where flammable vapours may be present and/or may accumulate as a result of the movement of flammable vapours heavier than air) until the proper precautions have been completed, required gas tests and a confined space entry permit.
  • Before filling a vehicle’s gas tank, the engine should be turned off. All refuelling will take place in designated areas outside of the buildings.
  • The appropriate work permit must be obtained before cutting, welding, or other hot work begins in areas where flammable liquids are present.
  • Spill/leak and emergency response procedures should be developed for operations involving flammable liquids.
  • All employees who use, handle, store, and/or are exposed to flammable liquids must receive hazard communication training, including general and chemical-specific information.
  • Required personal protective equipment (including, but not limited to, respiratory protection and chemical-resistant gloves and clothing) must be provided and kept readily available.

Cylinder handling and storage

The handling and storage of cylinders must comply with the following requirements:

  • Cylinders are free of corrosion, pitting, dents, or other signs of physical damage.
  • Cylinders should always be stored in an upright position.
  • Full and empty cylinders must be stored separately. Empty cylinders, except acetylene cylinders, should be stored in a horizontal position.
  • Cylinders should be stored away from ladders and in designated locations where they will not topple over or be damaged by falling or stepping objects.
  • All unidentified or unlabeled cylinders must be immediately removed and returned to the supplier.
  • Lubrication of cylinder valves and accessories with oil or grease should not be done because it is unnecessary and highly dangerous.
  • The acetylene cylinder valve should not be opened more than three-quarters of a turn. This is so that it can be quickly closed in an emergency.
  • The cylinder valves will close when the job is done.
  • The cylinder must not be raised to a height with ropes wrapped around it. The cylinders will be lifted using a cage with suitable lifting lugs.
  • The valve should not open for more than 3 full turns and should open slowly. An exception is breathing air cylinders which must be either fully open or fully closed.
  • Racks or carts containing cylinders must be secured to vehicles to prevent them from falling over.
  • Compressed gas cylinders shall be transported in such a way as to prevent falling or violent contact with other cylinders or similarly hard objects.
  • Personnel working with compressed gases must be familiar with the properties of the content (flammability, reactivity, toxicity, corrosivity, etc.). Training must include information on hazardous properties, personal protection, and first aid that is available on the appropriate SDS.
  • Staff must be trained in the proper return or disposal of cylinders.
Material Handling and Storage
Material Handling and Storage

Manual Material Handling and storage

The manual handling of material must meet the following requirements:

  • An ergonomic evaluation will be conducted on all manual material handling operations to determine if the work activity should be redesigned to reduce physical and mental stress on the employee.
  • The size, shape, and weight of the materials to be handled must be considered in advance and the most efficient and safest method of performing the task planned.
  • The right tool for the job will be provided. Mechanical means will be used instead of manual lifting when practical. Defective tools and devices must not be used or returned to service until repaired.
  • The employee’s first efforts after safety instruction should be closely monitored to ensure proper lifting methods are used.
  • Assistance must be provided when moving excessive loads. In general, items over 23 kilograms (50.7 pounds) must be handled by two or more employees, depending on the shape of the item.
  • Heavy objects should be pushed and not pulled during transport.
  • Personnel should stay clear of equipment being loaded or unloaded.
  • Carts of adequate size will be used to transport materials.
  • Cartwheels must be choked when loading or unloading heavy or bulky loads.

Nitrogen Handling and storage

Nitrogen management must meet the following requirements:

  • All personnel handling nitrogen must be familiar with the hazards of nitrogen, be able to recognize the symptoms of overexposure and take appropriate action if anyone is affected or overcome by nitrogen.
  • Adequate ventilation must be provided to ensure that an oxygen level of 20.8% is maintained in the area or building where nitrogen is used.
  • Entry into an oxygen-deficient or inert atmosphere should be avoided. However, if the work must be carried out in an inert or oxygen-deficient atmosphere, personnel entering such a confined space must wear appropriate personal protective equipment/gas meters. For more details, see the Confined Space.
  • When purging equipment with nitrogen, it is good practice to install a pressure gauge on both the nitrogen system and the processing system to allow the operator to monitor both systems.
  • Nitrogen cylinders should be stored in a shady location where they will not be exposed to extreme temperatures.
Material Handling and Storage
Material Handling and Storage

Carbon monoxide handling and storage

The management of carbon monoxide must comply with the following requirements:

  • All personnel handling CO must be familiar with the dangers of CO, be able to recognize symptoms of overexposure and take appropriate action if anyone is affected/overtaken by CO. The SDS should be consulted for CO hazards.
  • Adequate ventilation must be provided, as a ventilation plan. Extract ventilation should be provided at the point where CO is generated.
  • All personnel handling CO should be made aware of the potential for exposure and should be provided with portable CO monitors to detect high or rising levels of CO. In addition, a gas monitor must be provided.
Material Handling and Storage
Material Handling and Storage

Chemicals/Pyrophoric materials handling and storage

It shall be well understood by all concerned that exposure of pyrophoric materials to air can result in ignition. Such material shall be handled in an inert atmosphere or as given in their SDS. Some of the most commonly encountered materials include:

  • Phosphorus (white or yellow).
  • Potassium (and most of its salts, such as potassium hydride, KH).
  • Sodium (highly dependent on moisture content).
  • Aluminum Alkyls (a common catalyst, also called tri-ethyl-aluminium).
  • Titanium (if finely divided, such as in shavings from machine tools).
  • Magnesium (and many of its salts).

The chemical products that can generate significant risks in their storage can be separated into seven groups:

SubstancecharacteristicsControl measures
OXIDANTSSubstances that generate oxygen at the ambient temperature of the warehouse in which they are stored or by exposure to heat.should not be stored together with reducing substances
CORROSIVEStrong concentrated acids and alkalis, and other substances that can cause burns or irritation to the skin, mucous membranes, or eyes, or deteriorate most materialsKeep strong acids and strong bases separate, placing them as close to the ground as possible and in trays to collect any spills.
WATER-REACTIVE PRODUCTSThey produce violent reactions or release highly toxic, flammable or corrosive products.Do not use water
TOXICThey require ventilated storage areas, especially those with high volatilityThey must be separated from flammables and combustibles. They should not be stored together with peroxides, substances that release flammable gases in contact with water, compressed, liquefied or dissolved gases, or fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate.
PEROXIDANTSPeroxidables are products that can form unstable peroxides.Must be stored in cool, dark environments.
PYROPHOSPHORICThey combust in contact with airspecial containment measures are necessary.

The first four groups give rise to strongly exothermic reactions, releasing significant amounts of heat in a violent, even explosive manner if they come into contact with incompatible products.

Chemical substances must be stored in their original containers, in safe places, considering their inherent risks, incompatibility with other chemical products, and environmental conditions (heat, sources of ignition, light, and humidity).

When a product presents several risks, an estimate of the severity of the risk must be made, taking into account the total quantities stored, the material and the size of the containers.

Oxidizing substances storage

They constitute sources of oxygen and, therefore, are capable of facilitating combustion and intensifying the violence of fire. If the containers of oxidizing materials have deteriorated, their contents may mix with other combustible substances and cause ignition.

It is dangerous to store strong oxidizing substances near liquids, even if their flash point is low or near flammable materials, even if they are only slightly. It is safer to keep all flammable substances away from the place where oxidizers are kept. The storage area should be cool, well ventilated and have a fireproof structure.

Toxic substances handling and storage

Toxic chemicals should be kept in cool, well-ventilated areas away from sources of heat, acids, moisture, and oxidizing substances. Volatile compounds should be stored in non-sparking refrigerators (-20ºC) to prevent evaporation.

Since containers can leak, storage rooms must be equipped with smoke evacuation hoods or other equivalent local ventilation devices. Opened containers should be closed with tape or another sealing element before being replaced in the storage room. Substances that can chemically react with each other should be kept in separate locations.

Material Handling and Storage
Material Handling and Storage

Corrosive substances handling and storage

Typical examples are hydrofluoric acid, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, formic acid and perchloric acid. These materials can damage your containers and spread in the atmosphere of the storage area; some are volatile and others react violently with moisture, organic matter, or other chemicals.

Acid vapours can corrode structural materials and equipment and exert a toxic action on personnel. These types of substances must be kept at a low temperature, but well above their freezing point, since a compound such as acetic acid can freeze at a relatively high temperature, break its container and spread when the temperature exceeds that point again.

Sometimes, it is necessary to deposit corrosive and toxic liquids in special containers; For example, hydrofluoric acid should be kept in bottles made of lead, gutta-percha, or refined ozokerite. Since this acid interacts with glass, it should not be stored near glass bottles or earthenware bottles containing other acids.


  1. Evaluate all possible layouts, assessing both their benefits and shortcomings.
  2. The type of product and flow of items per unit of time will determine how the products will be handled, which is inherent to internal processes.
  3. It considers even the most critical conditions of flows and products. In this way, you will ensure that the project meets the required demands. If the solution involved a high flow of products, then it would require conveyors or sorters that work in an integral, controlled and automatic way.
  4. Remember that having a detailed description of the materials that will be handled, their flow logic, rates, restrictions and different sub-handling is a requirement to minimize risks in the implementation.



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