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Requirements for Storing Chemicals

If you have a laboratory or research center using chemicals, it is important to know how to properly store them. 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.

Simply putting chemicals on shelves is not enough. 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 chemicals are mixed there is a reaction so you need to take note of this when you are storing your chemicals. 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. 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. Labels should be put on chemical containers and labels should be put on cylinder shoulders.

OSHA recommends that the number of storage cabinets for chemicals should be at least five 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. These cabinets should be far from sinks or water sources and should always be locked. Take precautions when storing liquid chemicals in cabinets. The cabinet in these cases should be placed in cool, dry locations away from sunlight. 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. 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.

The people that are handling the chemicals should receive training on the safety storage procedures. The recommendation of OSHA is that training should done every few months. 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. Trained and qualified personnel should be able to handle chemicals properly to ensure safety in the facility.

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