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Laboratory Safety Manual

Reviewed May 2012

Chapter 7: Administrative Concerns
Section 7.3 - Facility Design

H.   Chemical Storage

The storage of chemicals within laboratories and storage areas must incorporate a number of considerations, including the following:

  1. OSHA requirements (Federal and State)
  2. NFPA, State, and University Fire Code Requirements
  3. Facility layout and limitations
  4. Chemical use patterns and locations (location and quantities in which specific chemicals are used)

It is anticipated that laboratories may use relatively large quantities (bulk drums) of certain solvents or acids (which are stored in storage areas) with a majority of chemicals being stored and used in four liter or smaller containers.

The principle concerns in achieving proper storage is to maximize employee safety with regard to chemical compatibility, spill control, fire/explosion control, to provide security and identification and to provide a "user friendly" system with respect to point-of-use.

Certain storage guidelines apply to central storage locations:

  1. Storage must be physically secure.
  2. Adequate containment for spills and accidental releases must be provided.
  3. Flammable chemicals shall be stored in accordance with NFPA, OSHA, and University fire codes. Metal drums used for storage and dispensing require grounding.
  4. NFPA labeling must appear on cabinet and room doors at approximately waist level or lower to allow adequate visualization in dense smoke conditions.
  5. Chemicals shall be stored in accordance with compatibility and hazard classes. Generally, these chemicals will be segregated as flammables, acids, bases, reactives, oxidizers, and toxins.

Storage rooms or cages must be equipped with spill control/containment typically adequate for 10% of the storage capacity or the volume of the largest container. Cabinets designed for flammable or corrosive chemical storage provide a specific design capacity for containment.

Storage must conform to compatibility restrictions as described in Appendix B. Typically, solvents, acids, bases, reactives, oxidizers, and toxins will be stored separately. Separation basically refers to physical separation of containers and isolation of potential spills and releases with the goal of preventing chemical reactions. Ideally, separate cabinets or isolated areas within a central storage area should be utilized for segregated storage of incompatibles.

Small quantities of chemicals can be held at individual work stations if this quantity is to be promptly used in a test or set of tests and does not compromise acceptable ambient organic vapor levels or procedures for spill control and fire safety.

Chemicals should be stored as close as feasible to the point of use in order to minimize transport distance. Chemical storage should be limited to only those areas in which the particular chemical is used. Storage locations must be identified on an emergency floor plan posted in each work area and must be equipped with a spill kit, eye wash, and telephone.

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