Documentation a Must with Hazardous Chemicals

Hazardous Material Management Plan Involves Architects, Owners, and Code Officials
Published 9-26-2006
  • MAQ

    The maximum quantity of hazardous materials allowed per control area decreases as you move away from the first floor.

    Image courtesy of BHDP Architecture.

It isn't enough to simply know what chemicals you have, or even to safeguard those chemicals inside a properly designed building. It also is critical to document and inventory those chemicals in a Hazardous Material Management Plan, an eight-page form included in NFPA 1, Annex D.

“This is the one document where the rubber meets the road, where everybody comes together,” says Wayne Walters, a project manager with BHDP Architecture.

When adopted by the authority having jurisdiction, NFPA 1 Annex D requires that any building that contains hazardous materials must be documented with a set of floor plans detailing where those hazardous materials are located. That needs to be accompanied with a report that states what the basic building function is and outlines exactly what materials are contained in the building.

“Typically that report would be put together by an architect, a fire engineer, or an industrial hygienist,” says Walters. “This is the vehicle that places hazardous material design at the forefront of building design – precisely where it belongs!”

BHDP includes an abbreviated form of the Maximum Allowable Quantity Table from the International Building Code in its contract documents.

“We have a big note that you can’t miss underneath it that says ‘this building occupancy will comply with this chart,’” he says. “We put it back on the owners and operators of the buildings, and we have said these are the guidelines under which the building will be operated. It is not just the architects, or the building owners, or the code officials. There is a three-way conversation, and a three-way responsibility in dealing with these chemicals.”

“It is important to have a good process,” adds Greg Burrows, principal architect at BHDP. “We meet with the code officials when we are in schematic design, right at the beginning of a project, because you don’t want to go all the way through your construction and hand the code official a set of drawings based on what the architects and engineers thought the code said. You need people who are going to work with you through that process. That way you can avoid any problems along the way.”

The International Fire Code includes a chapter about emergency planning in which it lists data that the local fire officials may request: a management plan, an inventory statement, a facility description, or a sketch showing what the building contains and where it is located.

“Should there be some accident or incident in your building, the first respondents coming to your building know where your hazardous materials are stored, how much you have, and they can assist you,” says Walters. “That is really what this is all about.”