Working in a lab means having a lot of responsibility. One of the many things you’re responsible for in a lab is storing the hazardous chemicals properly and safely. Contamination, fires, and explosions are just some of the hazards that can easily occur in a lab just because the chemicals weren’t stored as they should’ve been. It is necessary for you to follow the safety protocols and regulations to avoid these hazards, but also to not get injured or exposed to toxic chemicals. Here is how to ensure that hazardous and dangerous chemicals in your lab are all stored properly.
Don’t mix incompatible substances
No matter how hard you try, you cannot always prevent substances from spilling or leaking. In that case, it’s important to remember that the spilled substances might interact. For that reason, it is essential to separate them. Before storing the chemicals, you should always understand their properties.
For instance, you should know that some acids react with hypochlorites, while some other acids react with cyanides or alkalis. Nitric acid can react explosively when it comes in touch with organic materials such as alcohol. Whenever you have doubts about what reacts with what, you should always consult with someone or check the safety data sheet.
Get the right storage system
You should always think of the possible risks when working with hazardous substances. Storing the chemicals in the right type of containers is the priority for you, but that isn’t everything. For example, you should be concerned with things such as whether the container is too high or not.
The higher the shelving, the bigger the chance is of dropping and spilling the chemicals. You should also think of whether the containers are sturdy enough or not. Having the storage shelves collapse would be a terrible thing to happen, but it could happen easily if you don’t store the chemicals as they should be stored.
Label the storage containers
You should always know what substance you have in your hands. A secure way to do so is by labeling the storage units. Properly labelling containers can literally save lives when working in a lab. Safety signage is easily done and it definitely pays off.
When you’re in a hurry or you have a case of emergency in the lab, you’ll find these labels more than helpful. Make sure to stay aware of the risks when labelling the chemicals and make sure that the signage is understandable and clear.
Use the right equipment
Another thing to keep in mind is that nothing can replace the right type of lab equipment. The quality of the equipment is not something that should be in question. Make sure to keep the substances in suitable containers and make sure that those containers meet all of the safety requirements.
You should know which class a specific substance belongs to before you could store it in the proper container. For instance, there are explosives and detonators, corrosives, or flammable liquids. Depending on the type of chemical, you should be able to find the perfect storage unit.
Pay special attention to the flammable materials
Even though an injury or a drop of a chemical can be pretty dangerous, nothing seems to be as bad as a fire or explosion. Consequences brought by an explosion can hardly ever be fixed, especially if people get hurt. For all of these reasons, you should definitely pay extra attention to storing flammable materials.
The first thing to do is to keep these containers separate from any possible source of ignition or other dangerous substances. Another thing to do is to make sure that the area is well-ventilated so that, in case of leaks or spills, the vapours can rapidly disappear. Finally, store these materials in fire-resistant containers made out of non-combustible materials.
Train the employees
Finally, you shouldn’t be the only person who knows how to properly work with the chemicals. Anyone who enters the lab should know about the chemicals and the risks they carry. A risk assessment in a lab is essential and that will help you properly train the employees and other researchers.
The key thing here is understanding. You need to understand what the risks in your lab are so you could teach them to other people and keep them safe. Make sure that your employees know how to identify early warning signs of potential issues. Noticing the risk on time can literally save lives in an environment such as this one. Make sure that they also know how to act in a case of emergency and you’ll have no issues whatsoever!
Staying safe in a lab is a top priority for every researcher. With these simple tips, you’ll be able to deal with the substances and chemicals in your lab without ever risking any damage or injury!