Chemical Storage Guidelines
If you have a laboratory or research center using chemicals, it is important to know how to properly store them. The occupations safety and health administrations or OSHA has given out the requirements for storage that should be considered. Here are the chemical storage requirements that we should comply with.
It is not enough to just put all the chemicals that you use on shelves. Because there are different kinds of chemicals they should be separated and storage accordingly. Different chemicals should not be put together in a cabinet but rather there should be put in different storage places or cabinets for different kinds of chemicals.
When chemicals are mixed there is a reaction so you need to take note of this when you are storing your chemicals. Keeping chemicals away from each other especially if they have negative interaction is very important. Solvents and oxidizing agents should not be put together, and solvents should be kept in cabinets that are fire resistant. Do not put acids (nitric, hydrochloric, and sulfuric) and bases (sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, slaked lime, sodium carbonate, and aqueous ammonia) together in one cabinet. Mixing these corrosive bases with acids with be generating heat which is very risky. Labels should be put on chemical containers and labels should be put on cylinder shoulders.
The recommendation of the OSHA is that there should be at least five chemical storage areas or cabinets. These five storage cabinets can contain the following: general chemicals for the first cabinet where chemicals are put depending on category and hazardous rating, acids for the second cabinet, corrosive acids for the third, corrosive bases for the fourth, and flammable chemicals for the last cabinet. The cabinets should always be locked and they should be kept far away from sinks and water sources. Take precautions when storing liquid chemicals in cabinets. The cabinet in these cases should be placed in cool, dry locations away from sunlight. Doors of the cabinets or storage places should be installed with hazardous signs.
OSHA does not have a specific color coding system, but they recommend that you create a system that will help to identify specific chemicals. For example, you can use red for flammable chemicals, yellow for reactive or oxidizing agents, chemicals hazardous to health can be colored blue, corrosives chemicals can be white, and green and gray for those chemicals that are only moderately hazardous.
Training on safety storage procedures should be given to people assigned to handle chemicals. There should be training every few months as recommended by OSHA. If there are new chemicals, every staff should know about it and they should be taught on how to properly store it. It is very important to store chemicals properly. The protection of property and personnel are ensured when chemicals are stored properly. You should ensure that all chemicals are handled by trained and qualified personnel.
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