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Chemical Storage Guidelines

Chemicals should be stored properly and it is important to know how to do it especially if you have a lab or a research center. Guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA, regarding the proper storage of chemicals should be given importance. 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. If there is negative interaction between two types of chemicals, they should be kept far away from each other. 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). When corrosive bases and joined with acids there is a risk that the mixture will generate heat. 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. There should be one for general storage where you can put the chemicals depending on their categories or hazardous rating, the acid area where only acids are stored, an area for corrosive acids, one for corrosive bases, and another one 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. There should be hazardous signs installed on the doors of the cabinets or storage places.

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. 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. The training and qualification of personnel is very important when it comes to handling chemicals.

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