The safe storage of hazardous chemicals is an essential part of environmental, compliance, and safety programs for many institutions and organizations. Hazardous storage lockers, buildings and operations must meet certain regulations to comply with Federal and State agencies; including the EPA, OSHA and NFPA. This article illustrates important chemical storage guidelines to help meet compliance standards.
Labeling Hazardous Chemicals
All chemicals must be clearly labeled in order to provide hazard information to users, emergency personnel, transportation and/or disposal methods. Ensure manufacturers’ labels are clear to read. If labels are torn, or unable to read contact the chemical manufacturer for additional labeling instructions. Manufacturers’ labels should include, depending on state, contents of the container, hazard information, and manufacturer’s emergency information or the responsible party.
Segregate Incompatible Chemicals
Hazardous chemical storage should always be segregated and stored according to the hazard classification. When storing hazardous chemicals ensure that they are segregated with fire-rated or non fire-rated partition walls, depending on chemical classification.
Common chemical storage classifications outlined:
- highly toxics
- compressed gases
- water reactives
Ensure corrosives are stored away from substances that may react with and release corrosive, toxic or flammable vapors. Prior to storing, read all Safety Data Sheets to ensure chemicals do not belong to more than one chemical family or hazard class. If chemicals belong to more than one hazard class then contact your safety manager on storage procedures. Safety Data Sheets must be accessible to anyone handling, transporting or using chemicals.
Hazardous Storage Lockers Do’s and Dont’s
Chemical Storage Requirements
- Label hazardous storage lockers, buildings and cabinets according to the hazard classification(s) being stored inside.
- Ensure hazard identification placards are in use with the classification being stored.
- Keep doorways including entryways and exits clear from any obstructions.
- Depending on the type of chemical storage and placement, hazardous storage lockers and buildings should be equipped with fire suppression, mechanical ventilation, vapor detection, and other safety accessories.
- Keep emergency equipment close by and in proper working order, in the event of a hazardous situation.
- Take inventory of chemical containers.
- Inspect containers for rust, damage or corrosion.
- Ensure container labels are readable.
NFPA 704 Symbols
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) diamond symbols illustrate the degree of health, flammability, reactivity and special hazards to provide information on what type of chemical is being stored or transferred. Hazards have a rating of zero for minimal hazards to four for severe hazards.
- Health (Blue): The health hazard rates the effect of short-term exposure to a chemical from physical contact. Varying from one to four, with four being very lethal.
- Flammability (Red): Flammability hazard illustrates chemical ignition from exposure to a spark, open flame or high temperature. A flammable chemical that could easily ignite at room temperature is given a four.
- Reactivity (Yellow): The reactivity hazard rates a chemical’s thermal instability. Explosives and other highly unstable chemicals are classified as a four.
- Special (White): Special hazard classification symbols include W to indicate a water reactive chemical and OX which indicates an oxidizer that could ignite combustible/flammable material.
To learn more about hazardous storage lockers, buildings and other storage needs contact US Chemical Storage online or call 1-800-233-1480 to speak to sales engineer.