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. 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. Chemical storage should follow these requirements.
It is not enough to just put all the chemicals that you use on shelves. They should be separated and stored according to their different kinds. For best results, different kinds of chemical should be stored in different cabinets or storage places.
Remember that chemicals interact, and so this should also be considered when they are stored. Chemicals with negative interaction should be stored away from each other. An example of this would be to store solvents together in a fire-resistant cabinet, but you should keep oxidizing agents away from them. 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. 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. 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. For better safety, these cabinets should be kept away from the sunlight and placed in cool, dry areas. 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.
Safety storage procedures should be taught to those who handle the chemicals regularly. OSHA recommends that training should be completed every few moths. New chemicals brought to the facility should be known to all and should be handled and stored properly. 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. Trained and qualified personnel should be able to handle chemicals properly to ensure safety in the facility.