Steel drums and other barrels are an excellent choice of container for industrial oils and lubricants. But to avoid contamination, you need to ensure that an oil barrel is safely handled and carefully stored.
While an oil barrel is robust and long lasting, improper storage can cause the products inside to become contaminated with dust or moisture. Sunlight and temperature changes can cause products to deteriorate, while staff members need to be trained to properly handle industrial materials with the necessary due care and attention.
In this article, we ask our experts at ITP Packaging for advice on how to safely handle and store oil barrels. Here are the most important safety tips and precautions to follow.
1. Store Oil Barrels Indoors
Steel drums are the most commonly used oil barrel, but there are other materials too – such as fibre or plastic – that are used for industrial storage and transport. Regardless of the material, your oil barrel ideally needs to be stored inside.
Storing oil barrels outside leaves them susceptible to the weather, even if they’re covered. Water can leak into the barrel, diluting your oil, while temperature changes are more pronounced outside than in.
For industrial usage, you should have a designated storage area inside, that’s clearly marked and labelled.
2. Keep Your Oil Barrel Covered
Oil barrels need to be covered, even if they’re stored inside a warehouse or are in transit in the back of a covered lorry.
While the barrel might look sealed, microscopic contaminants can make their way into the barrel, causing your product to degrade over time. This can be dust, pollution, moisture, or any other contaminant that could be present while the barrel is in storage or transport.
3. Store Barrels Away From Known Contaminants
It might sound obvious, but it’s incredibly important to store your oil barrel away from any known contaminants.
If your barrel holds lubricants for the machinery in your workshop, then make sure you have a separate area for the barrels, for example.
While it’s convenient to keep lubricants close, they can quickly become contaminated with dust and other particles from the production line.
4. Don’t Store in the Sunlight
Oil barrels are best stored in cool, dark locations. They need to be kept out of direct sunlight, at least as much as realistically possible, for most of the day.
Sunlight can penetrate through the barrel, causing oils and lubricants inside to degrade if they are left consistently exposed to UV radiation. This affects the quality of the product and shortens its lifespan.
If you don’t have any other option, then make sure you invest in a UV-resistant cover for the barrel. This will stop the UV radiation from penetrating through the oil barrel.
5. Keep the Temperature Consistent
While sunlight can affect the product inside the barrel, so too can the temperature. Oils and lubricants often have specific temperature ranges they need to be kept within, or else the product degrades.
Temperature fluctuations are as much a problem as extreme highs and lows that might affect the oil. Temperature fluctuations can cause the barrel to change shape (it contracts or detracts over the course of a day). This not only wears the barrel down over time, but allows microscopic particles inside.
Try to keep barrels stored in temperature-controlled areas, ideally a cool, dark place, where temperature fluctuations between day and night are minimal.
6. Keep Oil Barrels Sealed
Oil barrels should be sealed when they’re in storage. This stops the oil from leaking or evaporating, and is best practice in terms of health and safety.
Tightly sealed barrels (sealed with bungs) stop any messy spillages, but also stop your product from being contaminated by dust or dirt that could be in the storage area.
7. Stack Your Barrels Safely
Barrels should be stored above ground level to avoid any contamination and to stop damage to the floor. They should be stacked on designated raised platforms or shelves, or on top of pallets.
It’s important that your barrels are stacked appropriately. Oil barrels can be stacked one on top of another (although if you have space to avoid this, then there’s no reason to).
Move barrels around using forklifts or other industrial equipment, and ensure that your staff are trained in their proper handling.
8. Carry Out an Official Risk Assessment
Business owners and managers need to ensure that they prioritise health and safety when an oil barrel needs to be handled and stored. Storage areas and oil barrels need to be sufficiently labelled, so handlers know which products are inside.
Risk assessments can help to identify any dangers, contaminants, or the chance of accidents occurring when barrels are moved and when they’re in storage. You need to know what to do if there is a spill, if a barrel is leaking oil, or if there is an accident in the warehouse.
You also need to know how to safely remove or replace the oil or lubricant inside a barrel, and when the oil needs to be changed and disposed of entirely. A good rotation system can help you to keep track of your oil barrels when they’re in storage.
Contact ITP Packaging Today to Find Out More About Working With Oil Barrels
Steel drums are the most commonly used form of oil barrels, but for health and safety you need to know best practices when it comes to storage and handling.
Here at ITP Packaging, we have a wide range of barrels designed for industrial usage, and our staff are happy to help you find the right barrels for your needs. For more information on the safe handling and storage of an oil barrel, don’t hesitate to contact ITP Packaging today.