How chemicals must be stored as per OSHA standards?

The types of chemicals, where and how to store them is one of the most important aspects we should be familiar with. As per Hazard Communication Standards defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); chemical manufacturers and distributors must evaluate hazard risks posed by various elements.

All compounds must be labelled properly and accordingly with Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or Safety Data Sheet (SDS) as renamed recently. In addition, employers dealing with hazardous chemicals must label and train their workers about safety handling as per SDS.

Basic legal requisites

Fundamental legal requirements for chemical storage as per OSHA standards are;

– Each chemical stored must be in accordance with the SDS that categorises substances per their strength and behaviour under various circumstances. For instance toxicity, flammability and acidic/caustic properties along with how chemical behaves in fire, accidental exposure and spill treatment.

SDS must be readily available whenever requested by companies and manufacturing plants.

– A well-defined written training plan with details over training sessions and employees who’ll deal with chemicals is also a must-have.

Benchmarks for chemical storage facilities

Simply shelving chemicals and their derivatives isn’t sufficient under OSHA requisites. Each chemical must be split and stored per their class in separate cabinets. Chemicals that emits negative reaction or pose even a minimal threat when kept close must be stored at a distance to avoid triggering a hazard. For instance, solvents are kept together in a flame-resistant cabinet but all oxidising agents well away from them.

Likewise, acidic mediums such as acetic, nitric, hydrochloric and sulphuric are kept apart from bases like sodium hydroxides, potassium, slaked lime, sodium carbonate and aqueous ammonia. They’re highly corrosive and give exothermic reaction when mixed with acids. Furthermore, all cylinders must be properly labelled with their chemical feature or trade name. Essentially, storage facilities need to have five sections or cabinets;

– A general cabinet storage chamber where chemicals are shelved accordingly as per categories or hazardous ratings.

– Area or cabinet for sulphates and nitrates.

– Separate medium for highly corrosive acids.

– Specialised compartment for flammable substances and,

– A distinct portion for bases.

If your company deals with butyl acetate production, carefully identify physical and chemical attributes of the compound and see where it falls in SDS for storage plus handling.


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