How to Store Chemicals Properly
If you have a laboratory or research center using chemicals, it is important to know how to properly store them. There are guidelines or requirements for chemical storage that are given by the Occupations Safety and Health Administration or OSHA, that should be carefully considered. Below are the requirements given by OSHA for proper storage of chemicals.
Simply putting chemicals on shelves is not enough. Chemicals of different kinds should be separated and stored according to their kind. 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. If there is negative interaction between two types of chemicals, they should be kept far away from each other. 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.
OSHA recommends that the number of storage cabinets for chemicals should be at least five cabinets. The first one is for general storage where chemicals are put depending on their category or hazardous rating, the next is the cabinet for acids only, then there is a cabinet for corrosive acids, another for corrosive bases and the last for flammable chemicals. These cabinets should be far from sinks or water sources and should always be locked. When liquids are kept in safety cabinets, excessive chemical vapors may be a concern. For better safety, these cabinets should be kept away from the sunlight and placed in cool, dry areas. There should be hazardous signs installed on the doors of the cabinets or storage places.
To help identify chemicals quickly, it has been recommended by OSHA to create a color coding system because they do not have a specific system that everyone should follow. An example color coding scheme would be as follows: red for flammable chemicals, yellow for reactive or oxidizing agents, blue for chemicals hazardous to health, white for corrosive chemicals, and green and gray for chemicals that are moderately hazardous.
Safety storage procedures should be taught to those who handle the chemicals regularly. The recommendation of OSHA is that training should done every few months. 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 property and the people are protected if chemicals are stored well. The training and qualification of personnel is very important when it comes to handling chemicals.
Source: Workplace Safety Products