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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. 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. There should be different storage places or cabinets for different kinds of chemicals.

When you are storing chemicals, remember that these chemicals can interact. If there is negative interaction between two types of chemicals, they should be kept far 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. Mixing acids and bases generate heat and thus put the storage facility at risk. Labeling chemical containers is important and for cylindrical ones the label should be on the 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. Take precautions when storing liquid chemicals in cabinets. For better safety, these cabinets should be kept away from the sunlight and placed in cool, dry areas. 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. 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. Chemical storage is very important. The protection of property and personnel are ensured when chemicals are stored properly. The training and qualification of personnel is very important when it comes to handling chemicals.

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