Organic peroxides are organic chemicals which contain highly reactive, combustible and thermally unstable substances which may undergo self-accelerating decomposition. They also possess oxidizing characteristics and will react, often violently, with organic matter and chemical reducing agents. To put it simply, exposure, inhalation, or accidental contact with this substance can cause significant damage to its victim. Thus, education and training regarding the proper handling and storage of organic peroxide is required for anyone who are in-charge of the said chemical.
While substitution is one of the best ways to address chemical hazards, it’s not always that easy or even possible to find a suitable replacement for a particular type of oxygen peroxide that’s needed for a certain job. In such cases, workers must be well-aware of the handling procedures of this chemical in order to keep the entire workforce safe from hazards and spill incidents.
Like other chemicals, all containers must be thoroughly inspected to ensure that there are no damages and that the item is properly labelled. Workers must also be aware of proper temperature controls and conditions that must be observed when handling or storing the chemicals. For example, dry peroxide and liquid peroxide have different storing guidelines, and the latter must be thoroughly checked since it can decompose gradually and produce harmful gas.
To add, workers must be reminded to:
- Keep in original containers.
- Hold within the predetermined temperature limits.
- Keep in dedicated stores.
- Prevent contact/contamination with other materials such as acids, alkalis, amines, accelerators, combustible materials, metals, reducing agents, etc.
- Minimize the quantity at the workplace so that no more is present than is necessary for the job in hand.
- Wear standard gears as required.
According to OSHA, storage facilities must also be:
- Well ventilated.
- Out of direct sunlight and away from steam pipes, boilers or other heat sources.
- At temperature as recommended by manufacturer/supplier. Always keep the storage area within the recommended temperature range.
- Supplied with adequate firefighting equipment, including sprinklers.
- Supplied with suitable spill clean-up equipment and materials.
- Free of ignition sources such as open flames, hot surfaces, burning tobacco and spark-producing tools and devices.
- Accessible at all times.
- Labelled with suitable warning signs.
Handling organic peroxides
As far as handling goes, experts advise that all areas where organic peroxides are used are kept clean and free of combustible and other incompatible materials and any ignition sources. Furthermore, temperature level in areas where the chemical is stored and used should be controlled so that it won’t initiate the rapid decomposition of the substance.
Meanwhile, well-engineered ventilation systems must be installed to eliminate airborne organic peroxides from the work site and mitigate any associated hazards with chemical exposure. The amount and type of ventilation will vary, depending on various things such as the type of job, kind and amount of materials used, and size and layout of the work site. The dedicated HAZWOPER 8-hour training for chemical hazards must also be taken by safety managers and employees from the organization itself, or through third-party training providers that are authorized to facilitate traditional sit-down lessons or an equivalent self-paced (and time-friendly!) web-based learning program.