Chemicals has a big role to play in most companies in their daily operations. Whether these are proprietary substances that are used in their manufacturing process, or solvents for degreasing and cleaning, harmful chemicals exist in the workplace.
One of the most important measures that can help mitigate the risk of chemical exposure to the people or the environment is proper handling and storage.
For most hazardous chemicals, they need to be safely stored away from people’s reach and placed in a chemical storage cabinet and only trained personnel should handle them.
Identify the Chemicals
Before you head out to buy a chemical storage cabinet, you need to determine the variety and types of chemicals in the facility first. Every chemical used in different operations need to have a Material Safety Data Sheet. This should contain information on how each chemical in the operation should be stored.
Proper segregation of chemicals is very important for everyone’s safety. This will also ensure that incompatible materials will avoid inadvertent contact. Combustion, fire, toxic or noxious gases, and violent chemical reactions are consequences of improper segregation.
Acids should never be stored with bases. For oxidizers, they should not be kept together with organic materials or any reducing agent. It is recommended to have a separate storage area or a physical barrier to properly segregate them.
When choosing a cabinet to segregate different chemicals, the primary consideration should be the chemical’s compatibility with the material used in the construction of the cabinet. The corrosive properties of a chemical should always be taken into consideration when looking for cabinets, such as a metal cabinet. For instance, corrosives like caustics or strong acids are likely to corrode the majority of cabinets with metal construction.
A good choice for such substances will be an epoxy-painted or non-metallic cabinet. Such cabinets can offer a better service life with these strong corrosives.
On the other hand, metal storage cabinets are not recommended for flammables. There are specific cabinets for flammables that can minimize the risk and damage to the employees and the facility in case of spill or accident.
There are more considerations when choosing a storage cabinet for chemicals such as the size of the storage area and the quantity of chemicals in the facility. Aside from chemical compatibility concerns, safe handling needs weekly inspections of the storage areas and a strong inventory control. Make sure that all chemicals are labeled properly and stored right. Moreover, chemicals should not be stored on fume hoods on the floor, bench tops, or in traffic aisles. Shelves should not be overcrowded and no item should be above the eye level.
Danger is always possible when there is a presence of chemicals. This is why they need to be properly handled and stored so danger and any form of accident will be avoided.