1 November 1996

Safety first key to award winning performance

Farmers are familiar with the requirements for safe pesticide storage on-farm. But what extra burdens do distributors face? John Allan profiles the winner of the 1996 Storekeeper of the Year award

DESPITE the supposed drive for deregulation of industry, agrochemical distributors still face a multitude of laws, codes of practice, guidance notes and other imperatives from Europe and the UK government. For the past 18 years the industry body BASIS has been helping them cope.

This year, the British organisation of BASIS has staged a Storekeeper of the Year Award to celebrate the coming of age of BASIS and at the same time recognise excellence in running an efficient and environmentally-friendly pesticide store.

The first winner of the award is Gary Woodward of Technicrop, Phocle Green, Ross-on-Wye, Hereford. He and his team of seven service both farmers and other stores in the company over a large area of the West Country. He also has responsibility for the storage and supply of sulphuric acid for burning-off potatoes.

So what justifies his title of Storekeeper of the Year?

To begin with his 465sq m (5000sq ft) store has a bunded area that extends outside the building so vehicles can be unloaded within the contained area. A diverter valve ensures any contaminated water is retained before safe disposal. This prevents any risk of it getting into the water supply chain. In addition the concrete floor of the store is sealed with an impervious coating, as are all floor joints and the walls up to bund height.

Optimum use of space

Racking in the store allows optimum use of the available space. It also means stock rotation is easier to deal with, since the oldest stock is readily accessible.

The racked pallets are moved by fully trained forklift truck drivers. Training is also given on fire drill, protective clothing, first aid, emergency procedures, COSH&#42 and other legislative requirements.

The additional procedures needed for the few pesticides classified as poisons under the Poisons Act are carefully followed. This ensures that signed orders are obtained and that poisons are delivered into secure storage on the farm – now commonplace for all pesticide deliveries.

Since store staff do not have a BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection, Mr Woodward ensures customers asking for advice are referred to suitably qualified agronomists in the company.

BASIS certificate

He does, however, have the legally-required BASIS Certificate of Competence in the Storage and Handling of Crop Protection Products, as well as a City and Guilds Qualification needed for driving vehicles over 3.5t maximum gross weight when carrying hazardous goods.

This is especially important for transporting sulphuric acid, where the orange plate requirements come into play. Drivers of vehicles under 3.5t MGW in the five-vehicle transport fleet have been on a one-day BASIS Driver Awareness course to ensure their competence in transporting pesticides.

Safe day-to-day running of the store is backed up by an annual store and transport assessment carried out by a BASIS assessor, so meeting the Code of Practice for Suppliers of Pesticides requirement for an independent annual store assessment.

The assessment also ensures distributors are likely to meet the requirements of current legislation, ahead of any enforcement visit by an Environmental Health Officer or Health & Safety Inspector, and also that they hold appropriate letters of approval from pollution control and fire authorities.

Personal protection

Adequate personal protective equipment (ppe) is needed to safeguard staff after any spillage problem.

Readily accessible and appropriately-signed fire extinguishers and alarms must be available and training given in their use. Transport vehicles have to have ppe, sand, shovel, brush, heavy duty plastic containers and fire extinguisher on board, together with appropriate delivery notes and information cards for the emergency services.

Additionally, vehicles must have a means of securing the load and a drivers compartment with a vapour proof seal between the load and the driver.

The statutory requirements for COSHH, first aid, poisons, illness and accident recording, transport, emergency contingency plans are also checked.

Mr Woodward is also reassured that the health and well being of staff, the public and the environment are being safeguarded. &#42

Safely racked away on pallets, the Technicrop pesticides in Gary Woodwards bunded store should pose no threat to water supplies.

BASIS storekeeper of the year

&#8226 Buildings are constructed to meet appropriate fire and structural standards.

&#8226 Bunding will retain any spillages or fire water.

&#8226 Efficient stock segregation and rotation is practised.

&#8226 Safe stacking of products and use of forklift trucks is ensured.

&#8226 Spillage containment equipment and clean-up materials are available.

BASIS store assessment checks

&#8226 645 agrochemical companies registered.

&#8226 950 stores visited each year by BASIS assessors.

&#8226 FEPA requires each store to be controlled by a nominated and certificated storekeeper.

&#8226 Stores selling agrochemicals are subject to inspection by Environmental Health Officers.

&#8226 Stores involved in contracting and/or seed dressing will be inspected by the HSE.

&#8226 BASIS Storekeeper of the Year finalists: Gary Woodward of Technicrop, Ross-on-Wye; Robert Sheldrick of Premier Crops, Soham, Ely; and Malcolm Collins of Cropwise, Barlby, Selby.