There are a variety of methods to store and segregate chemicals. Common sense should be used when setting up storage areas so that workflow is not disrupted. Chemicals should never be stored by simply alphabetizing them One of the most common methods for storing chemicals is segregating by solids, liquids, and gases. Then they should be segregated by hazard class, and finally alphabetically.
General Storage Considerations
- Avoid storing materials on top of cabinets. Clearance from the ceiling must be 18 inches for sprinklered labs and 24 inches for not sprinklered.
- Ensure container weight does not exceed the load rating of the shelves.
- Wall mounted shelving is not recommended for chemical storage.
- Corrosive liquids shall be stored below eye level.
- Do not store chemicals in fume hoods
- Provide adequate storage space for chemicals within your lab.
- Keep chemicals away from heat or direct sunlight
- Use secondary containment when possible
- Use properly rated and labeled refrigerators and freezers
- Chemical storage cabinets in hallways should be labeled with the Group name and be kept locked at all times.
Chemical Compatibility and Storage
All hazardous chemicals used or stored at the University must be properly labeled at all times. Labels should list at least the chemical identity, appropriate hazard warnings, and the name and address of the manufacturer, importer or other responsible party. Most, if not all of this information should be on the original chemical container. If the chemical is transferred from the original container into another container, the second container must also be labeled with at least the chemical identity, appropriate hazard warnings.
The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Hazard Communication
As of June 1, 2016, containers of hazardous chemicals MUST adhere to the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) format as indicated in the GHS Pictograms image below. The GHS system, part of OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), consists of nine symbols, or pictograms, providing recognition of the hazards associated with certain substances.
Each pictogram covers a specific type of hazard and is designed to be immediately recognizable to anyone handling hazardous material. In addition to pictograms, labels are required to include a signal word (“danger” or “warning”), a brief hazard statement and a precautionary statement outlining ways to prevent exposure.
RLS will assist to answer questions concerning the labeling under the Globally Harmonized System.
The table above depicts nine symbols or picotograms and descriptions. They are as follows from left to right:
Health Hazard: A cancer-causing agent (carcinogen) or substance with respiratory, reproductive or organ toxicity that causes damage over time (a chronic, or long-term, health hazard).
Flame: Flammable materials or substances liable to self ignite when exposed to water or air (pyrophoric), or which emit flammable gas.
Exclamation Mark: An immediate skin, eye or respiratory tract irritant, or narcotic.
Gas Cylinder: Gases stored under pressure, such as ammonia or liquid nitrogen.
Corrosion: Materials causing skin corrosion/burns or eye damage on contact, or that are corrosive to metals.
Exploding Bomb: Explosives, including organic peroxides and highly unstable material at risk of exploding even without exposure to air (self-reactives).
Flame Over Circle: Identifies oxidizers. Oxidizers are chemicals that facilitate burning or make fires burn hotter and longer.
Environmental Hazard: Chemicals toxic to aquatic wildlife.
Skull and Crossbones: Substances, such as poisons and highly concentrated acids, which have an immediate and severe toxic effect (acute toxicity).