Keenan Blog

Infection Prevention Must Team With Chemical Safety

May 27, 2021

As more schools, businesses and other public facilities reopen amid the improving COVID-19 situation, there’s been some stocking up on supplies like hand sanitizer and disinfectants. These chemicals help reduce the risks of spreading infection, but great care is required to store and dispense the products to mitigate their potential hazards.

Most organizations will have alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHS) in good supply these days. Pump bottles and wall dispensers appear everywhere now, but we cannot become complacent about the risks contained in them. ABHS is a flammable liquid that evaporates into an ignitable vapor at room temperatures, with a flashpoint of only 63 degrees Fahrenheit. The National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code 101 provides national standards for safe storage of ABHS and the placement and operation of dispensers.

Because of long-standing infection control protocols, hospitals, medical clinics and other health care facilities are aware of fire safety regulations for ABHS. However, educational institutions, public agencies and private businesses that haven’t generally kept as much on hand may not be as well informed on the safety rules, including:

  • Limitations on the volume of ABHS that may be kept in a building
  • How and where ABHS may be stored and facility features such as flammable liquid storage cabinets, sprinkler systems and spillage containment
  • Reduction of sources of ignition in the vicinity of ABHS
  • Locating dispensers and how much a single dispenser may contain
  • Minimum width of corridors where dispensers are placed
  • Dispensers cannot release the product without activation and must minimize accidental or malicious activation

Keenan’s Loss Control Department recently presented a webinar on Chemical Safety Amid COVID-19 as our consultants began to see schools and other client facilities procure significant quantities of ABHS and other chemicals to combat transmission of coronavirus. If you didn’t have the opportunity to join the webinar live, you can view the recording and download a PDF copy of the slides by following the link above. This informative presentation covers current issues regarding the proper storage, handling and managing of hazardous chemicals and waste.

Your efforts to keep down the infection risk for the people who work at and visit your facilities plays a valuable role in defeating this pandemic. It’s just as important to be sure you prevent fire, explosion and toxic hazards to people or property. Learn which regulations and codes impact storage and handling these chemicals properly to understand your compliance requirements.

 

About Stanton Stubbs
Stanton Stubbs is Assistant Director of Loss Control Services. He joined Keenan in 2009 with 10 years of experience in Loss Control and Environmental Health and Safety Consulting. Stan has a significant experience in environmental, health, safety and workers’ compensation loss control programs for a wide range of operations. Experience includes the development and training on numerous programs and policies including Injury Illness Prevention Plan, Hazard Materials Business Plan, Facility Emergency Action Plan, business continuity, industrial truck (forklift), respiratory protection, hearing conservation, hazard communication, personal protective equipment, and ergonomics.