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Guidelines for Swimming Pool Professionals – Chemical Storage Hazards

Swimming pool professionals are responsible for knowing and understanding the hazards associated with pool chemicals and ensuring that the chemicals are safely handled and stored. In addition to Certified Pool Operator® training, hazardous materials education and training is essential. Hazardous substances are capable of being handled safely during every use if a proper management system is in place. This system requires written procedures that are prepared, posted, and followed by trained employees at the swimming facility. The facility must be properly designed and maintained with employees ready to work with local agency responders to reduce the impact of any incidents that may occur. 

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Hazardous Material Safety

Product labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) include information on how to properly store chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has several recommendations for addressing the major hazards associated with pool chemicals. One of which is always keeping pool chemicals dry. The swimming facility that pool professionals work at should design and maintain designated areas for pool chemical storage so water does not come into contact with any chemical containers or packaging. Any areas with the potential for water to enter should be checked periodically. If any water is found, the issue should be addressed immediately.

Water Entry Inspection

To look for possible entryways to the hazardous chemicals storage area, start by inspecting the roof, windows, doors, walls, and floor joints of the chemical storage room. Any potential openings should be caulked or sealed in a comprehensive manner. Inspect water pipes, sprinkler systems, and drains for water leakage and seal them appropriately. Since all swimming facilities are unique, pool professionals should use their best judgment to look for other potential water entryways. 

Preventative Measures 

Preventing water from coming into contact with stored pool chemicals must be a top priority. Swimming pool professionals should always make sure to close chemical containers properly and cover any opened or damaged packaging with a waterproof covering. Chemicals should always be stored away from doors, windows, pipes, and drains. The chemical storage room should have sloped floors that lead to drains so if water does enter the area, it quickly drains away. Chemicals should be stored on shelves and pallets so they do not rest directly on the floor. 

Incompatible substances that are hazardous when mixed should always be stored away from each other and not above/below one another.  Old and new chemicals of the same type should never be combined. Tools used during chemical handling should be designated to one type of chemical and never cross-contaminated. There should also be designated, separate containers for cleanup of spilled materials to avoid inadvertent mixing of substances.

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Fire Prevention & Emergency Response

One of the worst-case scenarios caused by improper chemical storage is fire igniting. Rags, trash, debris, or other combustible materials should never be allowed to clutter the hazardous material storage area. Ignition sources such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and gas-powered equipment should remain far away from the storage area. Smoking must also be strictly prohibited. 

Pool Professionals should work with local first responders and their Local Emergency Planning Committee for emergency response. Chemical fires are difficult to extinguish, so the first priority should be an evacuation and calling the fire department if a fire breaks out. Chemical and halon-type fire extinguishers should not be used, as they could react with chlorine and worsen the problem. Only persons trained in chemical fire response should attempt to put out fires. 

Certification for Pool Professionals

These guidelines should only act as a baseline for chemical storage safety. The best way to fully understand swimming pool safety is to become a Certified Pool Operator®. You can learn from the experts and become CPO® certified at Pool Operation Management. Pool Operation Management’s award-winning CPO training courses train you on how to properly operate a swimming pool or spa facility. Our two-day courses offer a wealth of information and training in everything from pool chemicals to energy conservation to risk and liability. For the very best in pool operation, contact us today.

*This information is obtained from the Certified Pool and Spa Operator Handbook. This information may not be applicable to your pool based on your pool type and location. One should reference all applicable regulations and standards for your facility.

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