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How to Safely Store Corrosive Chemicals in the Workplace

Many Australian businesses have, or are in the process of developing, a COVID-Safe Plan to establish protocols for cleaning and disinfecting their workplace to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission.

For many, this may mean the introduction of Class 8 corrosive chemicals into their work environment to meet their obligations around disinfecting a range of frequently touched surfaces.

For the occupational health and safety of your business, employees and the public The Australian Standard AS 3780-2008 and Australian Dangerous Goods (ADG) Code sets out the regulatory requirements for how hazardous and corrosive substances must be stored.

The expert team at iQSafety have put together this handy guide to storing corrosive chemicals to ensure your business safety and compliance.

What are Class 8 Corrosive Substances?

Defined in chapter 2.8 of the Australian Dangerous Goods Code

"Class 8 Corrosive substances are substances which, by chemical action, will cause irreversible damage to the skin, or, in the case of leakage, will materially damage, or even destroy, other goods or the means of transport."

Generally, Class 8 corrosives fall into two categories:

Acids: such as acetic acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrofluoric acid and chromic acid; or

Bases: such as ammonium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and potassium hydroxide (caustic potash).

Acids, bases (including caustics or alkalis), and other corrosive chemicals are found in almost every workplace.

Because of the potential of these substances to cause significant harm to people, property and the environment, they must be stored, handled and disposed of in a safe and compliant manner.

Storing Class 8 Corrosive Substances

  • Identify corrosive products and volume for storage, start by conducting a workplace chemical audit and set aside any chemical product containers that have a Class 8 Corrosive symbol on the supplier label. [include image]
  • Inspect all existing and incoming containers of corrosives to ensure they are clearly and correctly labelled, in their original undamaged supplier container and can be tightly closed when not in use. Never accept delivery of, or attempt to store, defective containers and never open a Class 8 container that appears to be bulging.
  • Download, print, read and file a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) for every Class 8 corrosive substance identified. Your MSDS folder needs to be readily available to everyone who may work with corrosives, so they are aware of the hazards and how to handle them safely.
  • Because corrosives have the potential to dissolve wood, stone, and metal, they can't just be stored under the staffroom sink. If your business doesn't have one, you will need to invest in a corrosive storage cabinet that can adequately hold the volume and type of Class 8 substances for your workplace.

Things to consider when choosing a corrosive storage cabinet

Cabinet Design

To meet AS 3780-2008 standards, a corrosive storage cabinet must have the following design and construction features:

  • The cabinet must be wholly made from, or fully lined with a corrosive-resistant material or coating.
  • The door, or doors, need to be close-fitting, self-closing and held shut by at least two catches.
  • Doors must not open inwards.
  • The cabinet must be able to be opened from within to prevent anyone from getting trapped inside.
  • The base of the cabinet must have a liquid-tight sump at least 150mm deep and hold at least 25% of the maximum volume capacity of the storage cabinet.
  • Any shelves within the cabinet must be perforated to allow for free air movement.

Cabinet Location

Sensible, practical and safe location of corrosive storage cabinets reduces the risk of workplace accidents, as such, you should consider the following when deciding where to install one within your workplace:

  • Keep escape paths clear, do not position corrosive storage cabinets where they might block any emergency exit or route.
  • Locate corrosive storage cabinets within proximity to a basin or other provision for washing hands, skin or flushing eyes should accidental direct contact with a Class 8 substance occur.
  • Don't crowd or overfill cabinets. Please see the below section on Cabinet Capacity.


The workplace hazard signage requirements for corrosive substance storage can depend on regulations and codes of practices within the state or territory of your business, and design specifications and display of dangerous goods placards must also comply with AS 1216-2006 requirements.

Where a state or territory has no regulatory signage requirements, mark corrosive storage cabinets with the following:

  • Details of the cabinet manufacturer, importer or distributor in Australia, including name and address.
  • A maximum storage capacity label
  • A Class 8 dangerous goods symbol at least 100 mm in length.

All cabinet signs and markings should be visible with the cabinet doors closed.

Cabinet Capacity

Regulations limit the amount of harmful, dangerous and corrosive substances that can be stored indoors in Australian businesses.

The ADG Code puts a 1000kg/litre limit on the volume of corrosive substances permitted for storage within a workplace. When classifying corrosive substances, they will fall into one of three packing groups ranked by their danger.

Of the 1000Kg/L limit no more than 250Kg/L can be from the Packing Group II (Medium Danger) and no more than 50kg/L from Packing Group I (High Danger).

Where there are multiple safety cabinets installed in a building or area, they must be at least 5 metres apart.

Incompatible dangerous goods

It is essential to manage your chemical safety storage taking into consideration potential incompatibility between various substances.

Incompatible dangerous goods can react dangerously if stored side-by-side, this could include releasing toxic and corrosive gases and substances, combustion and even explosion.

Some of the dangerous substances incompatible with Class 8 corrosives include:

  • Flammable Liquids
  • Oxidising Agents
  • Organic Peroxides

10 Final Corrosive Substance Storage Safety Tips

  • 1. Only allow OH&S trained and authorised personnel to access corrosive substances.
  • 2.Keep the smallest possible amount of corrosive material in storage as is necessary.
  • 3. Regularly inspect chemical storage cabinets and containers for any deficiencies, including any corrosion, leaks, label damage or disarray.
  • 4. Ensure adequate, and appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available and used by any staff handling Class 8 corrosive substances.
  • 5. Avoid skin contact, protect face and eyes, and try not to breathe in corrosive vapours, fumes, dust or mist.
  • 6. If accidental contact with a corrosive substance occurs, flush contaminated eyes or skin with water for at least 20-30 minutes, call for immediate medical assistance.
  • 7. Never return unused corrosive material to the original container because traces of contamination may cause a chemical reaction.
  • 8.Have a documented workplace first aid and emergency management plan and make sure your staff are familiar and trained in what to do if there is a workplace corrosive substance accident, spill or emergency.
  • 9.Update your MSDS folder whenever you add a new Class 8 substance to your chemical storage.
  • 10.Always refer to and follow the advice in the manufacturer's MSDS for a given product to ensure you handle and dispose of corrosive wastes safely and responsibly.

If you need workplace safety cabinets, iQSafety have a range of exceptional quality heavy-duty corrosive storage solutions. Whatever volume you need to store from as little as 15 litres up to 250 litres, we have polyurethane or metal corrosive safety storage cabinets suitable for indoor or outdoor use, and models for countertops, or under benches.

Give our friendly specialists a call to discuss your chemical storage needs.