Hazardous Materials: Proper Storage Strategies
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Identifying Common Hazardous WastesPt. 2: Complying with OSHA's Hazardous Waste StandardsPt. 3: Signage and Labeling Hazardous MaterialsPt. 4: This PagePt. 5: Managing Compressed-Gas CylindersPt. 6: Necessary Supplies for Hazmat EmergenciesPt. 7: Hazardous Materials: Focus on Flammables
Proper storage of hazardous materials is the next step in managing them correctly. Common problems uncovered during reviews of hazardous-material storage include using inappropriate or leaking containers, storing incompatible chemicals together, or using inappropriate or unsecured storage products.
Managers should ensure all containers have proper labels and are not leaking or spilling their contents in storage areas. It also is essential that storage areas are designed for the hazards present.
Workers should store chemicals in a closeable cabinet or on a sturdy shelf with a front-edge lip to prevent accidents and chemical spills. They also need to ensure all storage areas have adequate ventilation and doors with locks, and they should store corrosive chemicals in a dedicated acid cabinet in a secondary storage container.
These cabinets should be made of coated steel or multi-layered plywood, which resists corrosive materials. Workers should store nitric acid alone, unless the cabinet provides a separate compartment for nitric-acid storage. They also should store water-sensitive chemicals in a watertight cabinet in a cool and dry location, segregated from other chemicals.
Workers also need to avoid placing heavy materials, liquid chemicals, and large containers on high shelves or on top of cabinets, but chemicals also should not sit on the floor or on shelves above eye level.
Finally, workers should not store chemicals alongside food and drinks or in personal staff refrigerators, even temporarily. Refrigerators should feature proper signage indicating if they are dedicated for chemical storage.