Storing veterinary medicines safely on the farm (HSE)

Health & Safety Executive


So what makes a good storage facility on the farm?  The starting point may seem obvious but just buying what you need and avoiding stockpiling veterinary medicines is certainly worthwhile.

Storing excessive quantities of medicines can increase the health and safety risks unnecessarily and if the shelf-life of products are exceeded, they will need to be disposed of properly.  Large quantities also require a bigger storage facility, which may increase costs.  

Following this 9 point storage checklist will help you to keep people safe and to comply with the law.

1. Veterinary medicines should be kept in a designated secure store (which could be lockable) to prevent access by children, other unauthorised persons, animals, birds and vermin.
2. Medicines should be stored separately from associated equipment such as applicators, needles, syringes and dosing guns. Creating compartments in a container or cupboard may help you keep these items separate from one another.
3. Follow the recommendations for storage on the label or data sheet, and follow any other instructions given by a vet or Suitably Qualified Person (SQP). Products that need to be kept chilled should not be stored with food or drink. A fridge used for this purpose should be secure.
4. For small quantities, a cupboard or a container such as a bin, box or chest is acceptable but where large quantities are stored a separate building or designated area in a building should be used.
5. All storage facilities should be robust to withstand damage or accidental impact and fireproof for at least 30 minutes.
6. The facility should be able to contain leakage or spillage up to the capacity of the contents stored.
7. Provide suitable warning signs and text. The standard hazard warning sign (a black exclamation mark inside a black triangle on a yellow background) is acceptable communication supplemented with suitable wording (see below).
8. Ideally, the store should not be situated in a staff room, office or animal feed store, and not in domestic premise or food store.
9. Keep the store secure (locked) except when medicines are being placed in it or are being removed.

It is acceptable for most types of veterinary medicine to be kept in a designated area of a pesticide store but physically separate from the rest of the store and secure in its own right, for example in a cupboard identified as containing medicines.  

After use, sharps should be stored in purpose-made containers such as sharps bins and any used containers or unwanted products should also be stored safely and securely while awaiting disposal.

After treating animals, return unused products to their store as soon as possible and don’t leave any medicines lying around.

Don’t forget that personal protective equipment (worn when handling or using products) needs its own suitable storage facilities.

Hazard Warning SymbolWork with veterinary medicines is covered by various legal requirements.
For health and safety at work, the main legal duties are set out in:
• The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
• The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
• The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

This legislation places duties on employers, the self-employed and workers, and it applies to the storage and use of veterinary medicines in the workplace.

Right, the hazard warning sign that’s suitable for a veterinary medicine store.