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. 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. There should be 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. To give an example, solvent should be kept in fire resistant cabinets but must not be stored together with oxidizing agents. Acids (nitric, hydrochloric, and sulfuric) should be kept away from bases (sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, slaked lime, sodium carbonate, and aqueous ammonia). Mixing these corrosive bases with acids with be generating heat which is very risky. Labeling chemical containers is important and for cylindrical ones the label should be on the shoulders.
OSHA recommends that the number of storage cabinets for chemicals should be at least five 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. Chemical cabinets should be locked at all times when not in use and should be situated away from sinks and water sources. It should be a concern that there might be excessive chemical vapors from liquid chemicals kept in cabinets. The cabinet in these cases should be placed in cool, dry locations away from sunlight. Hazardous signs should be put up on cabinets or storage places for chemicals.
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. OSHA recommends that training should be completed every few moths. Staff should be informed about new chemicals and should also be taught of its proper storage. It is very important to store chemicals properly. If done well, your property and your people are protected. Trained and qualified personnel should be able to handle chemicals properly to ensure safety in the facility.
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