Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Storage, handling and delivery of chemicals

Storage, handling and delivery of chemicals

When you are planning chemical storage areas, you should carefully consider how you store, handle and take delivery of chemicals at your site.

What you must do

Follow safety data sheet instructions

When you receive any chemical it may be supplied with a safety data sheet (SDS). The SDS contains information about the chemical, including how to store, use and dispose of it safely. The SDS may also recommend the best methods and materials to use for cleaning up a spill. If you receive a chemical without an SDS, contact your supplier to find out whether or not they have to provide one.

For more information about SDSs, see the page in this guide on chemical labelling and information.

Comply with health and safety legislation

If you store hazardous chemicals you must comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations to protect the health of your staff. Check the SDS to see if the substances you use are hazardous.

The Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) and Healthy Working Lives in Scotland have produced guidance on the COSHH Regulations.


Scotland: Healthy Working Lives: COSHH and hazardous substances

Good practice

Locate your storage areas to minimise the risks of damage to the environment, and the health and safety of your employees and the public. Ensure that your storage area is located so if chemicals leak or spill, you will not pollute air, land, surface waters or groundwater.

Make sure your storage area is:

  • secure - avoid sites close to a boundary fence
  • away from heavy plant or where vehicles move around to minimise the risk of collision or damage to storage systems and pipework from vibrations
  • not likely to flood or, if this is not possible, above the height that any flood water is likely to reach
  • clearly signposted, with a clear boundary.

You should store chemicals safely to protect groundwater. It is important to remember that groundwater may be used for drinking water supplies. To find out if you are in an area where groundwater is particularly vulnerable, you should contact your environmental regulator.

Contact your environmental regulator

Delivery and handling of chemicals on your site can cause pollution. For example, forklifts can damage chemical containers and chemical bottles may break and leak.
You should:

  • Supervise deliveries of chemicals and fuels at all times.
  • Label all tanks and containers clearly with their contents and storage capacity - check levels before deliveries to prevent overfilling and spills.
  • Locate delivery areas to minimise the vehicle movements on your site. If possible, have a one-way system to avoid congestion, especially if you have frequent deliveries.
  • Mark out delivery areas clearly. If possible, put a roof over the delivery area.
  • Have an up-to-date drainage plan of your site. This will help you identify where any spills may end up.
  • Ensure drains from delivery areas connect to the foul sewer. If this isn't possible, isolate run-off from the surface water drainage system, either by catch-pits or sumps with isolating valves. Your delivery area should have an impermeable surface.
  • Check that delivery pipes have automatic cut-off valves to prevent overfilling tanks, intermediate bulk containers or mobile bowsers.
  • Keep a spill kit close to delivery areas, and make sure that your staff know how to use it. See the page in this guideline: Avoiding and dealing with chemical spills.

It is good practice to follow the pollution prevention guidelines (PPGs) to help you avoid causing pollution.

Pollution Prevention Guidelines (PPGs)

You can use the NetRegs e-learning tools to get a good overview of key issues. These tools are free to use and cover the essential points of each topic. They might be useful as a refresher course, or to make sure that staff have a good understanding of their environmental responsibilities.

  • Preventing pollution – a general guide
  • Duty of care
  • Sinks, drains and sewers
  • WEEE
  • Generating renewable energy

All are available at: NetRegs: e-learning tools:

Further information


Scotland: Healthy Working Lives: COSHH and hazardous substances

PPG 1 General guide to the prevention of pollution (Adobe PDF – 95.8KB)

PPG 26 Drums and intermediate bulk containers (IBC) (Adobe PDF - 351KB)

PPG 27 Installation, decommissioning and removal of underground storage tanks (Adobe PDF – 96KB)

CIRIA 736 - Containment systems for the prevention of pollution. Secondary, tertiary and other measures for industrial and commercial premises.

In this Guideline

REACH and storing chemicals

Storage, handling and delivery of chemicals

Bulk chemical storage - tanks and drums

Secondary containment systems for chemicals

Small-scale chemical storage - Cabinets, shelves and vehicles

Chemical labelling and information

Avoiding and dealing with chemical spills

Temperature controlled chemical storage

Waste chemicals and chemical containers

Chemical storage environmental legislation

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