How to Store Chemicals Properly
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. Here are the chemical storage requirements that we should comply with.
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. 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). 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.
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. These cabinets should be far from sinks or water sources and should always be locked. It should be a concern that there might be excessive chemical vapors from liquid chemicals kept in cabinets. It is best to put these cabinets away from the sunlight but in cool, dry places. Doors of the cabinets or storage places should be installed with hazardous signs.
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.
The people that are handling the chemicals should receive training on the safety storage procedures. OSHA recommends that training should be completed every few moths. 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. 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.