Now is a great time to give the chemical shed a spring clean, before the silly season of hay and harvest sneaks up on us. With most of the spraying program out of the way, and things still fresh in your mind, it is worthwhile doing a stocktake of chemical supplies and spending some time organising and improving your storage facilities.
Unfortunately, we continue to hear the odd report of crops being sprayed out due to a mix up of chemicals, whether that be the wrong product in the wrong container, a mix up of product rates, or due to unclear or worn out labelling. Whilst in some cases these unfortunate events are due to human error, there are still a number of steps to safeguard against such events, starting with the practices you employ in the chemical shed.
Chemical shed housekeeping
- Complete a Hazardous Chemical Register for all hazardous products stored on-farm.
- This is a legal requirement, for all workers to have access to, and needs to be accessible to emergency services in case of an emergency
- The register should include the product name and active constituent of all hazardous chemicals stored on site
- Ensure the above register is accompanied by up-to-date Safety Data Sheets (SDS).
- The date of issue is required to be less than 5years old
- The SDS can be accessed electronically on a database, however it is best to have hard copies in a folder at the chemical shed
- Ensure your chemical shed is set-up appropriately:
- Secured (locked) when unattended
- Fire and weather proof
- Away from people, dwellings, feed sources that could be contaminated by chemicals
- Clean water must be available at all times
- Bunded: in that a spill won’t run into other areas outside the storage area
- Well ventilated
- Fire extinguisher and first aid kit (with eye wash)
- Sturdy shelving for products to be safely stored, and clearly organised into groups
- Signage outside the storage area: ie. ‘Danger: Chemical Storage,’ along with an emergency plan and emergency contact numbers
- Spill cleanup kit: absorbent material (cat litter), PPE (gloves), dust pan and broom, heavy duty bucket or plastic bag
- PPE (personal protective equipment) should not be stored in the same airspace as the chemicals are stored. PPE should be checked and replaced frequently
- Chemicals must be kept in original, sealed, labelled containers. If the label falls off, then the brand name and active constituent must be labelled on the container. Always keep a permanent marker around!
- Only decant chemical into identically labelled containers, that clearly show product name and active constituent.
- Clean chemical containers, straight after use. Dispose through programs such as drumMUSTER or ChemClear.
- Always look for ways to improve the storage and handling of chemicals in your business.
- Have a look at further resources such as the Farmers’ Guidebook to work health and safety
- Do not store chemicals in containers that could be mistaken for food or drink containers.
- Do not store chemicals in containers that do not clearly show the original product labelling.
- Do not leave chemical containers out in the weather for labels to be damaged.
- Do not keep hold of unidentifiable chemical containers with unknown contents.
Complete a product inventory
- What stocks have you got left over from the 2019 season?
- Make a list of chemical products on hand.
- Mark half open containers with approximate contents, using a permanent marker.
- Organise stocks into groups ready for another season
- Order any new stock you require in the meantime.