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7.9.1 General Storage Guidelines

Laboratories should adhere to the following storage guidelines for the proper and safe storage of chemicals. By implementing these guidelines, laboratories can ensure safer storage of chemicals and enhance the general housekeeping and organization of the lab. Proper storage of chemicals also helps utilize limited laboratory space in a more efficient manner.

  • All chemical containers MUST be labeled. Labels should include the name of the chemical constituent(s) and any hazards present. Be sure to check chemical containers regularly and replace any labels that are deteriorating or falling off and/or relabel with another label before the chemical becomes an unknown. 
  • Keep all containers of chemicals closed when not in use. 
  • Every chemical should have an identifiable storage place and should be returned to that location after use. 
  • Secondary containment is meant to contain chemicals in the event of a leak or spill. The containment must be big enough to hold 110% of the contents of the primary container.
  • The storage of chemicals on bench tops should be kept to a minimum to help prevent clutter and spills, and to allow for adequate working space. 
  • Chemical storage in fume hoods should be kept to a minimum - limited to the experiment being conducted. Excess storage of chemical containers in hoods can interfere with airflow, reduce working space, and increase the risk of a spill, fire, or explosion. 
  • For chemical storage cabinets, larger chemical bottles should be stored towards the back and smaller bottles should be stored up front where they are visible. Chemical bottles should be turned with the labels facing out so they can be easily read. 
  • Chemicals should not be stored on the floor due to the potential for bottles to be knocked over and result in a spill. If it is necessary to store bottles on the floor, then the bottles should be placed in secondary containment, such as trays, and the bottles should be placed away from aisle spaces. 
  • For multiples of the same chemical, older containers should be stored in front of newer chemicals and containers with the least amount of chemical should be stored in front of full containers. This allows for older chemicals to get used up first and helps to minimize the number of chemical containers in the storage area. 
  • Do not store chemicals in direct sunlight or next to heat sources. 
  • Laboratories should strive to keep only the minimum quantity of chemicals necessary. When ordering new chemicals, laboratories should only order enough stock needed for the experiment or the quantity that will get used up within 1 or 2 years at most. 
  • Liquid chemical containers should be stored in secondary containment, such as trays, to minimize the potential for bottle breakage and minimize the potential for spills. 
  • Always segregate and store chemicals according to compatibility and hazard classes. 
  • Chemical containers should be dated when they arrive and should be checked regularly and disposed of when they get past their expiration date. Please Note: Due to the potential explosion hazard, peroxide forming chemicals are required to be tested and dated. 
  • Flammable liquids in excess of quantities for specific flammability classes must be stored in approved flammable liquid storage cabinets. 
  • Do not store acids in flammable liquid storage cabinets. This can result in serious degradation of the storage cabinet and the containers inside. Corrosive chemicals should be stored in corrosion resistant cabinets. The exceptions to this rule are organic acids, such as Acetic acid, Lactic acid, and Formic acid, which are considered flammable/combustible and corrosive and can be stored in flammable or corrosive storage cabinets. 
  • Do not store corrosive or other chemicals that can be injurious to the eyes above eye level. In general and where practical, no chemicals should be stored above eye level.
  • Label the outside of refrigerators/freezers to indicate items stored within.  For example, "Chemicals only, no food". 
  • Do not store flammable liquids in standard (non-explosion proof) refrigerators or freezers. Due to the potential explosion hazard, only store flammables in refrigerators or freezers approved by the manufacturer for storage of flammables. 
  • Highly toxic chemicals such as inorganic cyanides should be stored in locked storage cabinets. Always keep the quantities of highly toxic chemicals to an absolute minimum. See Particularly Hazardous Substances section. 
  • Be aware of any special antidotes or medical treatment that may be required for some chemicals (such as Hydrofluoric acid). 
  • Always keep spill kits and other spill control equipment on hand in areas where chemicals are used. Ensure all personnel working in the lab have been properly trained on the location and use of the spill kit. 
  • For reagent shelves, it is recommended to use shelves with anti-roll lips, to prevent bottles from falling off. This can also be accomplished using heavy gauge twine or wire to create a lip on the shelf.