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. Here are the chemical storage requirements that we should comply with.
Simply putting chemicals on shelves is not enough. Because there are different kinds of chemicals they should be separated and storage accordingly. 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. Keeping chemicals away from each other especially if they have negative interaction is very important. Solvents and oxidizing agents should not be put together, and solvents should be kept in cabinets that are fire resistant. Acids like nitric, hydrochloric, and sulfuric acids should be kept away from bases like sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, slaked lime, sodium carbonate, and aqueous ammoia. Mixing acids and bases generate heat and thus put the storage facility at risk. It is important to put labels to your chemicals, and cylinders should be labeled on their shoulders.
There should be at least five chemical storage cabinets as recommended by the OSHA. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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