How to Store Chemicals Properly
Properly storing chemicals is very important especially for laboratories or research centers. Guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA, regarding the proper storage of chemicals should be given importance. Chemical storage should follow these requirements.
There is more to storing chemicals than just putting them on shelves. Chemicals of different kinds should be separated and stored according to their kind. For best results, different kinds of chemical should be stored in different cabinets or storage places.
When chemicals are mixed there is a reaction so you need to take note of this when you are storing your chemicals. Chemicals with negative interaction should be stored away from each other. An example of this would be to store solvents together in a fire-resistant cabinet, but you should keep oxidizing agents away from them. 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. When corrosive bases and joined with acids there is a risk that the mixture will generate heat. Labels should be put on chemical containers and labels should be put on cylinder shoulders.
There should be at least five chemical storage cabinets as recommended by the OSHA. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Training on safety storage procedures should be given to people assigned to handle chemicals. The recommendation of OSHA is that training should done every few months. New chemicals brought to the facility should be known to all and should be handled and stored properly. The proper storage of chemicals is something that should not be neglected for its importance. 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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