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Requirements for Storing Chemicals

Properly storing chemicals is very important especially for laboratories or research centers. 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. Below are the requirements given by OSHA for proper storage of chemicals.

Simply putting chemicals on shelves is not enough. Chemicals of different kinds should be separated and stored according to their kind. There should be different storage places or cabinets for different kinds of chemicals.

When chemicals are mixed there is a reaction so you need to take note of this when you are storing your chemicals. Keeping chemicals away from each other especially if they have negative interaction is very important. Solvents and oxidizing agents should not be put together, and solvents should be kept in cabinets that are fire resistant. Acids like nitric, hydrochloric, and sulfuric acids should be kept away from bases like sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, slaked lime, sodium carbonate, and aqueous ammoia. When corrosive bases and joined with acids there is a risk that the mixture will generate heat. Labeling chemical containers is important and for cylindrical ones the label should be on the shoulders.

OSHA recommends that the number of storage cabinets for chemicals should be at least five cabinets. The first one is for general storage where chemicals are put depending on their category or hazardous rating, the next is the cabinet for acids only, then there is a cabinet for corrosive acids, another for corrosive bases and the last for flammable chemicals. The cabinets should always be locked and they should be kept far 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. 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. 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.

Training on safety storage procedures should be given to people assigned to handle chemicals. There should be training every few months as recommended by OSHA. 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. The training and qualification of personnel is very important when it comes to handling chemicals.

Source: oil spill kit