The ag chem products we use have revolutionised agriculture and food production. However, some of them are extremely dangerous when used or stored incorrectly. So, as part of our safety focus in February, we’re giving you a few tips on how to store and use ag chemicals safely.
Chemical Storage Tips:
- Always store chemicals in their original packaging – and be absolutely clear on what chemical it contains. Be vigilant – containers and labels can look very similar yet contain different chemicals, and labels can fade and fall off. If you mistake one for another, it can cause serious environmental or health effects.
- Get to know your actives – make sure you know what’s what. Once upon a time, there was one brand name for one active. Remember the days of Lontrel, Gramoxone, and Goal? Now there are hundreds of generic brands for these same actives plus different strength formulations. If you’re unfamiliar when picking up a new brand – write the name you’re familiar with on the drum in permanent texter before you get home.
- Keep your shed organised by chemical type – Try to store chemicals in your shed according to type and toxicity and abide by chemical storage guidelines, i.e. separate flammables from materials that burn easily, and don’t store liquids above granules/dry products.
- Lock em up – Chemicals should be stored in a lockable, well-ventilated area with good lighting and preferably on a sealed, bunded floor with appropriate drainage.
- Sign it – It’s also a good idea to ensure proper signage is displayed outside your shed, and also signage that is relevant to what chemical you have stored.
- Never decant chemicals into small containers. This should be straightforward common sense. This is especially true for families with young children, as the colourful liquid chemicals can often look like fancy sports drinks. Plus, this also makes it super easy to confuse chemicals.
- Have PPE on hand – Ensure appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available, stored correctly, and most importantly – used. Keep a list of what you have, and replace it as needed.
- Be prepared for spills and fires – Keep a spill kit on hand and an up-to-date fire extinguisher, but ensure it’s the correct type.
- Have First Aid measures in place – Make sure a shower and face wash station with clean water are close and easy to get to. You won’t realise how vital this is until you need it, and it could save your sight. Also, keep an appropriate First Aid Kit within reach.
- Keep a list – Get in the habit of updating and maintaining an inventory list of your chemicals for chemical use and storage.
Chemical Transport Tips:
- Ensure you and your workers are educated in transporting hazardous substances and adhere to appropriate securing of loads. Make sure you ute it, don’t boot it.
Chemical Disposal Tips:
- Dispose of containers according to the manufacturer’s instructions – this can be found on the label. And most 20L will have the DrumMuster logo on it, where you can drop off at a designated DrumMuster point.
- If you have unwanted chemicals on hand or half-full drums that you have no idea what they contain, get in contact with DrumMuster and ChemClear.
Chemical Mixing & Spraying Tips:
- Wear that PPE – Take an extra minute and ensure you put on appropriate PPE. It’s not a hassle when it can save you your health. Use gloves and safety glasses as a general precaution, and goggles and face masks where they’re needed. When mixing chemicals, chuck on an apron or chemical-resistant full-body overalls. Don’t get slack. Even when spot-spraying around the house. Your health is important, and there is a reason all chemicals advise you to wear PPE. Even the ‘low’ toxicity ones.
- Wash your hands – it’s easy to forget what you’ve touched and go straight into using your hands to bite a sandwich.
- Understand what chemical poisoning looks like – It’s not just feeling sick. Tiredness, headaches, sweatiness, dizziness, cramps, muscle pain, and blurry vision can all be symptoms of poisoning.
- Follow the label – Always use chemicals and hazardous substances according to the manufacturer’s instruction label and SDS.
- Follow correct tank mixing orders – Know when to add EC’s, SC’s and WG’s. Guides can be found online, like this useful one here: https://www.adama.com/australia/en/tank-mixing-guide
- Get used to reading and reviewing the labels. On it, you’ll find useful information, and it must include:
- The Product Identifier
- Active ingredient identity and proportion
- Hazard Pictogram and hazard statement, signal work and statement of precaution consistent with the correct classification of the chemical
- Directions, limitations of use and expiry date (if applicable)
- Withholding period
- Australian contact details of the manufacturer or importer
- Emergency procedures and first aid.
We hope these tips are helpful reminders. Be safe, and we’ll see you soon.