Weekly Safety Meeting – Chemical Storage Is A Matter of Safety

There are many work situations in which chemicals are routinely relied upon to get the work done. But just as important as the safe handling of these chemicals, is their safe storage. If not stored properly, chemicals can cause a fire, explosion, or personal injury. There are some real and common- sense safe storage procedures that should be followed to keep workers and the workplace free of chemical-related accidents.

The most important factor in chemical storage safety is keeping chemicals in their original containers. Next, check that each chemical container has a label. The label is a quick way of determining whether the material is a fire, health, or reactivity hazard. Read the chemical’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS). The SDS describes the chemical’s properties, hazards, and what to do if there is an accidental spill or exposure. Use the SDS as a guide for making storage decisions.

General Guidelines:

Follow these guidelines for safe chemical storage:

  • Read chemical labels and SDSs for specific storage instructions;
  • Store chemicals in a well-ventilated area; however, do not store chemicals in a fume hood;
  • Maintain an inventory of all chemicals in storage;
  • Return chemical containers to their proper storage location after use;
  • Store glass chemical containers so that they are unlikely to be broken;
  • Store all hazardous chemicals below eye level; and
  • Never store hazardous chemicals in a public area or corridor.

Separating Hazardous Chemicals:

In addition to the guidelines above, there are storage requirements for separating hazardous chemicals. Because an alphabetical storage system may place incompatible chemicals next to each other, group chemicals according to their hazard category (i.e., acids, bases, flammables, etc.).

Follow these guidelines to ensure that hazardous chemicals are stored safely:

  • Separate acids from bases. Store these chemicals near floor level;
  • Isolate perchloric acid from organic materials. Do not store it on a wooden shelf;
  • Separate highly toxic chemicals and carcinogens from all other chemicals. The storage location should have a warning label and should be locked;
  • Make sure empty or damaged chemicals are disposed of properly.
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