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Teacher Resources

Some Suggested Practices in the Storage and Handling of Laboratory Chemicals

  1. Storage of concentrated acids and bases should be limited to a maximum of 2 pints (1 liter) of each product unless you have an area designed and equipped for more. We suggest you consider acquiring an acid storage cabinet for this purpose.

  2. No flammable materials should be stored outside an approved flammables storage cabinet. Flammables kept outside a cabinet should be in safety cans. See safety cans and cabinets in the safety apparatus section of the Flinn Catalog/Reference Manual.

  3. Do not allow incoming shipments of chemicals to be opened and transported by school personnel other than qualified science teachers. The special and expensive shipping containers used are frequently discarded and would prove valuable for shelf storage.

  4. If possible, keep certain items in the original shipping package, e.g., acids and bases in the special and expensive styrofoam cubes.

  5. All chemicals should be dated upon receipt. Flinn chemicals are labeled with brightly colored date purchased labels.

  6. A permanent and perpetual inventory should be maintained. See the Flinn simplified inventory system in the current catalog..

  7. Establish a separate and secured storage area for chemicals.

  8. All chemicals should be stored in chemically compatible families. (See Flinn Suggested Chemical Storage Pattern Chart on pages 1061-1063 of our current catalog.)

  9. Avoid storing chemicals on shelves above eye level.

  10. The storage area and cabinets should be labeled to identify the hazardous nature of the products stored within. (See labels in safety apparatus section.)

  11. Proper type (Tri-Class ABC) and size (minimum 15 pound gross weight) fire extinguishers, in working order, should be in the chemical stores area.

  12. Shelving above any work area, such as a sink, should be free of chemicals or other loose miscellany.

  13. Shelving sections should be secured to walls or floor to prevent tipping of entire sections.

  14. Shelves should be equipped with lips to prevent products from rolling off.

  15. Chemicals should not be stored on the floor except in approved shipping containers.

  16. Storage area should be ventilated by at least four changes of air per hour. Isolate the chemical storage exhaust from the building ventilation system.

  17. No unlabeled products should be stored anywhere in the science facility.

  18. There should be two methods of exiting from a chemical storage area. Exits should be entirely free of the presence of hazardous materials.

  19. Be thoroughly familiar with the hazards and precautions for protection before using any chemical. Study the precautionary label and review its contents frequently before using any chemical product.

  20. Know applicable local regulations before disposing of chemicals.

  21. Never store chemicals in a standard (non-explosion-proof) refrigerator.

  22. Do not store chemicals in a fume hood.

  23. Open ether cans should be drained after use and not stored unless absolutely necessary. Rely on expiration date to dispose of the material.

  24. Glycerin should be available only to the instructor.

  25. Water-reactive products (sodium metal, potassium metal, etc.) should be stored under dry oil.

  26. Neutralizing chemicals, such as a spill kit, dry sand, vermiculite, and other spill control materials should be readily available.

  27. Establish an annual safety review procedure for your chemical stores area.

  28. Post emergency telephone numbers in the chemical stores area. Ideally, a telephone should be located in this area in the event of an emergency.

  29. Smoke detectors should be installed in the chemical storage area.

  30. Review the school's purchasing practices. If the science department will be held responsible for safety, then the science department should have a say in how the chemicals are acquired.

  31. An approved eyewash station and fire blanket should be within 25 feet of the chemical stores area.

  32. Discourage the purchasing of large containers of chemicals and dispensing into smaller containers.

  33. Keep sources of ignition away from the chemical stores area.

  34. Chemicals should not be stored in the science classroom or laboratory; but rather in a separate, securable and dedicated area.

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