Shipping containers are becoming increasingly popular for uses other than shipping. Andrew Lim of WorkSafeBC, believes they are appealing because they are “mobile, secure, robust, and relatively waterproof. They’re also easy to get and relatively cheap.”
Shipping containers are made to be airtight. It’s a great feature if you want to protect your cargo during a long trip by rail, ship, or truck.
That same feature can be a serious safety hazard. “Shipping containers have the potential to become a pressurized bomb if they contain enough of the three elements of the ‘fire triangle’ (oxygen, fuel, and a heat source)”
If flammable or combustible substances are stored in these airtight containers, they can vaporize and cause an explosion if exposed to an ignition source.
There are also incidents of workers becoming ill after opening and entering storage containers.
What can you do?
WorkSafeBC recommends that you:
- Add ventilation to your unit if you are storing compressed gases, chemicals, vehicles or tools that use gasoline.
- Don’t store flammable or combustible products with possible ignition sources
- Consider replacing the floor. They are often treated with pesticides.
- Post appropriate safety data sheet symbols, if required