Safe Handling and Storage of Chemicals

By following a few simple guidelines, the risks associated with handling and storage of material within the laboratory can be reduced considerably.

  • Laboratory workers should date containers with the day, month and year they are first opened and first received. This is required for materials that have potential to form organic peroxides and recommended for all other materials.
  • Laboratories should minimize chemical storage to only those chemicals which will be actively used. Laboratory doors should remain closed at all times.
  • Workers should not use chemicals or equipment if they have not been trained to do so.
  • Use the following chemical storage guidelines for work with specific chemical hazards:

General Chemical Safety Guidelines

  • Store large bottles of acids on low shelves or on trays in acid cabinets or a cabinet marked “corrosives”
  • Segregate oxidizing acids from organic acids, flammable and combustible materials.
  • Segregate acids from bases, active metals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and other incompatible materials.
  • Use bottle carriers or a cart to transporting acid bottles.
  • Have spill control pillows or acid neutralizers available in the event of a spill. Do not use bases to neutralize acid spill.
  • Segregate bases from acids and other incompatible materials.
  • Store large bottles of liquid bases on trays in a cabinet marked “Bases” or “Corrosives”.
  • Store solutions of inorganic hydroxides in polyethylene containers.
  • Have spill control pillows or caustic neutralizers available for caustic spills. Do not use acids to neutralize base spills.
  • Only store flammable liquids in a specially equipped flammable-safe refrigerator or flammables cabinet.
  • Keep away from sources of ignition.
  • Keep fire extinguishing and spill control equipment readily available.
  • For flammable metals, have a Class-D fire extinguisher available. See “fire extinguishers” for more information.
  • Store in a cool, dry area
  • Store away from flammable and combustible materials, such as paper, wood, etc..
Peroxide-Forming Chemicals
  • Date the container when received and when opened.
  • Store in airtight containers in a dark, cool, dry area.
  • Check container for formation of peroxides, as needed, using appropriate indicator strips.
  • Dispose of peroxide forming chemicals on or before expiration date or one year after opening, whichever is first.
Compressed Gases
  • Store in a secure and upright position.
  • Chain/strap cylinders individually.
  • Indicate the status of the cylinder: Full or In Use or Empty.
  • When not in use, replace the valve cap.
  • To transport use a cylinder cart.
  • Remove all manifolds and regulators, secure the valve cap, and chain or strap the cylinder to the cart before moving.
  • Only one spare cylinder per connected cylinder is allowed.  (i.e. if 2 cylinders are connected to manifold then only 2 spares are permitted)