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Chemical Storage Guidelines

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. Guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA, regarding the proper storage of chemicals should be given importance. Chemical storage should follow these requirements.

There is more to storing chemicals than just putting them 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. 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. 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. When liquids are kept in safety cabinets, excessive chemical vapors may be a concern. The cabinet in these cases should be placed in cool, dry locations away from sunlight. Doors of the cabinets or storage places should be installed with hazardous signs.

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.

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. Staff should be informed about new chemicals and should also be taught of its proper storage. It is very important to store chemicals properly. 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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