What are general steps to follow when conducting a chemical or product inventory?
Plan appropriately. When doing an inventory, it is useful to have a floor plan where to mark the areas where chemicals or products are used or stored. Set a path to follow so that there are no missed products or locations.
Ideally, the inventory should be conducted by a team of two persons (one can write and the other can handle the products if needed). Consider the specifics of the area you will be inspecting and wear the personal protection equipment required in that area.
Before the inventory begins:
- Has a means of communication been established in case of a problem (e.g., exposure, spill, breakage, fire, etc.)?
- Are spill response materials available? Are they appropriate for the products expected to be found?
- Do team members know how to deal with any “unknown” products they may find?
- Have team members know and understood what to do if they find a potentially hazardous situation?
- Have team members been trained in how to use emergency equipment such as an eyewash station or deluge shower?
- Does the team have the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE)? Depending on the products anticipated, you may need gloves made of the appropriate chemical-resistant material, glasses or goggles, chemical resistant clothing (aprons, etc.) and/or foot protection (for example: safety shoes/boots or chemical resistant safety shoes/boots as required for the area).
What should be done when taking in inventory?
When conducting the inventory:
- Mark the areas where the products are stored and used.
- Check all areas for products that may be stored in places they are not supposed to be.
- Ensure the inventory team knows what situations to expect, how to identify when a situation may be an emergency, and what to do in an emergency.
- Wear appropriate PPE.
- Make sure the ventilation is functioning properly in storage areas or rooms before you enter.
- Make sure there are no sources of ignition (flames, pilot lights, etc.) present.
- Know how to contact emergency services in case you are exposed, or find a spill, leak, or damaged container.
- Do not clean up a spill or leak if you are not trained to do so.
What should not be done when taking an inventory?
During the inventory:
- DO NOT handle the products unnecessarily.
- DO NOT remove products for disposal unless there is a process in place for storage and removal of hazardous wastes. Flag the product and have it removed safely and appropriately.
- DO NOT reorganize the containers, unless you find products that are improperly stored and they require immediate attention (e.g., flammables near an ignition source, incompatible materials stored near each other, etc.).
- DO NOT clean up a spill or leak if you are not trained to do so.
If you encounter a situation that needs to be addressed immediately, such as a spill, leak or the presence of ignition sources, follow the emergency notification protocol in your workplace.
What information should be recorded?
Your information needs will be specific to your workplace, but in general you need to record:
- Name and specific identification (e.g., the product code or CAS number*) of all chemicals, materials and products that are in the workplace including consumer products (such as cleaning products, lubricants and pest control products sold in retail stores)
- Amount, including the size and number of containers, amount remaining in the container, etc. Be as exact as you can.
- Location of products used in every place in your workplace.
- You may choose also to record:
- Manufacturer/supplier name
- Physical state (solid, liquid, gas under pressure, etc.)
- Any amount or type of waste that is present
- Situations where hazards are present, such as:
- Any containers that are not properly labelled
- Any storage containers, areas, tanks, etc. that are in poor condition
- Availability of an SDS for each product.
*CAS stands for Chemical Abstracts Service, a service from the United States that assigns a unique number to each pure chemical. CAS numbers are used worldwide.
How is the inventory maintained?
An essential aspect of the inventory is its maintenance over time. Products must be entered or quantities be updated as the products arrive or are used. If there are several persons in charge of purchasing products, implement a communication/updating system so that all products are inventoried in a centralized system. This system will ensure that those in charge of hazard information are informed about the presenceof the product.
What is an example of a chemical inventory form?
Determine the level of detail needed for your workplace. Customize this form accordingly.
|Location or Building Name:|
|Inventory completed by:|
|Chemical or Product Name/ |
CAS # / Manufacturer
(number, volume, etc.)
|Use / Process||Storage Location||SDS on file?||Other Comments|
(Adapted From: Implementing a Chemical Safety Program, CCOHS
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Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.