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How Safe Are Storage Containers?

How Safe Are Storage ContainersBuilt with corrugated steel, storage containers are inherently well-made, durable and safe to use. Various shapes and sizes of storage containers make them ideal for business inventory and storage. Standard containers can withstand the elements outdoors. They can tolerate any kind of weather, heavy duty inventory, and even exposure to corrosive chemicals.

As safe as they are, however, human error and mishandling is often the determining factor in any kind of safety issue.

Storage containers have a wide range of uses that prove their value to hotel chains, construction companies, property development projects, retail chains and other businesses. These containers are considered excellent extra storage capacity for equipment, tools, materials and more.

Consider construction companies’ use for storage containers. Using a portable storage container on a job site provides the benefit of keeping an inventory of needed materials on hand, like drywall, paint, shingles, lumber, or nails. Stopping a job in mid-flight to get the items at a remote location can interfere with workflow, shut down a job site for hours, or create other instabilities.

Consider the delays in driving to and from another location, especially in areas with heavy traffic, to get necessary materials. Picking up wood, steel or other items could pinch hours off your schedule. Plus, your crew members are also open to the possibility of auto accidents, and your company is more liable to workers’ compensation claims.

But it’s important to follow safety procedures and common sense safety tips every time. Here are some of the difficult environments in which storage containers are in operation:

  • Construction sites: Heavy construction equipment, materials, and tools may be held in a storage container on site.
  • Building renovations: Any buildings or interiors being refurbished, including hotels, commercial real estate units and community developments, often use mobile storage containers for furniture, tools, discarded materials, and other items. Storage containers are common sites on busy city streets.
  • Retail: Stores often put extra inventory in storage containers for use during seasonal promotions like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. They also use them during store interior renovations.
  • Industry: Industrial equipment and even hazardous items such as chemical storage tanks can be stored, warranting the need for a secure housing and proper loading and unloading procedures.

Extreme Use

  • Military Training: Storage containers are often part of training exercises. Unused cargo containers are used for storage and also in training camps. Their strength offers suitability as barricades during military exercises.
  • Housing: The growing trend of container housing emphasizes the sturdiness of a storage container as a temporary building. Many people have proven the livability of these units and have created unique and innovative designs around the world.
  • Office Space: Temporary or add-on office space can be built into modified storage containers. Temperature control, electrical connections, and modifications such as windows and doors make them flexible and versatile on job sites as functional business environments. Strength and stability under all conditions adds to this versatility.
  • Oil and Gas: Containers are used as mobile storage, crew quarters, and portable offices on oil rigs and gas platforms.

Storage containers are also safe enough for use as construction offices, sales offices, laboratories, kitchens, garages, and emergency housing.

Examples of Safety Incidents

Storage containers are built to be safe on the inside and out. They are generally free of danger, including the types with advanced, drill-resistant locking systems that adhere to capacity and weight guidelines from the International Standards Association (ISO). Care must be taken when chemicals are handled and stored.

Safety incidents occur, often with deadly consequences when handling certain substances. These can result from improper loading and unloading, rather than design and configuration. In 1999, a truck driver unknowingly transferred sodium hydrosulfide into a ferrous sulfate tank at a tannery in Whitehall, Michigan. The Whitehall Leather Company incident resulted in the death of a truck driver and injured employee overcome by poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas.

A similar incident occurred in Louisville, Kentucky in 1998. A nickel nitrate and phosphoric acid mixture was inadvertently mixed with sodium nitrate. The reaction produced nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, resulting in the evacuation of 2,400 people and quarantine of hundreds of people in their homes. Seven people were injured and the National Transportation Safety Board cited inadequate employee training for unloading hazardous materials. In both incidents, the US Department of Transportation had been found negligent in creating safety requirements for unloading such materials.

Standards and Regulations

Authorized personnel were designated for unloading materials at the leather tannery following the incident. These reflect requirements of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Section 172.702, requiring employers to train and test hazmat workers. The company now ensures workers oversee unloading during the entire process, while a check sheet must be followed by authorized personnel. Chemical unloading areas now remain secured. In addition, access doors and transfer couplers are locked and an emergency alarm button is installed at transfer locations.

This proves that facilities can be made secure regarding container storage. OSHA has issued more regulations for storage of materials and items. Federal standards provide many definitions and guidelines for items like flammable liquids. It also provides guidelines for container, portable tank, and hazards regarding electrical equipment as well.

You can take the most advantage of storage container safety by hiring a business with years of experience in this area. Mobile Mini is one example, providing quality constructed containers and a patented locking system. These containers are safe and secure, regardless of size, or whether containers are needed during renovations, to store inventory or records, or for disaster response.