Requirements for Storing Chemicals
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. Below are the requirements given by OSHA for proper storage of chemicals.
Simply putting chemicals on shelves is not enough. They should be separated and stored according to their different kinds. There should be different storage places or cabinets for different kinds of chemicals.
When you are storing chemicals, remember that these chemicals can interact. Chemicals with negative interaction should be stored away from each other. Solvents and oxidizing agents should not be put together, and solvents should be kept in cabinets that are fire resistant. 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. It is important to put labels to your chemicals, and cylinders should be labeled on their shoulders.
OSHA recommends that the number of storage cabinets for chemicals should be at least five 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. 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. 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. New chemicals brought to the facility should be known to all and should be handled and stored properly. Chemical storage is very important. The protection of property and personnel are ensured when chemicals are stored properly. Trained and qualified personnel should be able to handle chemicals properly to ensure safety in the facility.
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