Requirements for Storing Chemicals
Properly storing chemicals is very important especially for laboratories or research centers. There are guidelines or requirements for chemical storage that are given by the Occupations Safety and Health Administration or OSHA, that should be carefully considered. 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. For best results, different kinds of chemical should be stored in different cabinets or storage places.
When you are storing chemicals, remember that these chemicals can interact. Keeping chemicals away from each other especially if they have negative interaction is very important. To give an example, solvent should be kept in fire resistant cabinets but must not be stored together with oxidizing agents. 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. Labels should be put on chemical containers and labels should be put on cylinder shoulders.
The recommendation of the OSHA is that there should be at least five chemical storage areas or cabinets. These five storage cabinets can contain the following: general chemicals for the first cabinet where chemicals are put depending on category and hazardous rating, acids for the second cabinet, corrosive acids for the third, corrosive bases for the fourth, and flammable chemicals for the last cabinet. Chemical cabinets should be locked at all times when not in use and should be situated away from sinks and water sources. Take precautions when storing liquid chemicals in cabinets. It is best to put these cabinets away from the sunlight but in cool, dry places. 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. There should be training every few months as recommended by OSHA. If there are new chemicals, every staff should know about it and they should be taught on how to properly store it. Chemical storage is very important. 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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