How to Store Chemicals Properly
Properly storing chemicals is very important especially for laboratories or research centers. 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.
It is not enough to just put all the chemicals that you use on shelves. 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. Keeping chemicals away from each other especially if they have negative interaction is very important. An example of this would be to store solvents together in a fire-resistant cabinet, but you should keep oxidizing agents away from them. 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. It is important to put labels to your chemicals, and cylinders should be labeled on their shoulders.
The recommendation of the OSHA is that there should be at least five chemical storage areas or 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. Chemical cabinets should be locked at all times when not in use and should be situated away from sinks and water sources. 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. Hazardous signs should be put up on cabinets or storage places for chemicals.
Since OSHA has no specific color coding system, research facilities and labs are encouraged to create their own color coding system to help identify chemicals quickly. In order to classify chemicals, here is a great color coding scheme to follow: flammable chemicals can be red, reactive or oxidizing agents can be yellow, chemicals hazardous to health can be blue, corrosive chemicals can be white, and chemicals that are moderately hazardous can be green and gray.
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. Staff should be informed about new chemicals and should also be taught of its proper storage. Chemical storage is very important. 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.