• accessibility of the stockroom,
• local and state regulations,
• insurance requirements, and
• building and fire codes.
Many local, state, and federal regulations have specific requirements that affect the handling and storage of chemicals in laboratories and stockrooms. For example, radioactive materials, consumable alcohol, explosives, dual-use materials, and hazardous waste have requirements ranging from locked storage cabinets and controlled access to specified waste containers and regulated areas. Stringent requirements may also be placed on an institution by its insurance carriers.
Controlled substances (e.g., narcotics and other controlled prescription drugs) used in research or with research animals have special requirements. The laboratory director must first register with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and with the relevant state agency to purchase, possess, or use a Schedule 1–5 controlled substance. Schedule 1 and 2 drugs (e.g., morphine, pentobarbital) must be stored in a safe that is bolted to the floor or wall. Schedule 3–5 drugs (e.g., chloral hydrate, phenobarbital) must be stored in a locked drawer or cabinet. Access should be limited to the laboratory director and, if necessary, no more than the one or two laboratory members who will be using the substance. Detailed inventory records must be kept up-to-date, including amounts purchased, used, left on hand, and disposed of. Contact your local DEA office for disposal instructions. In some cases a DEA agent must witness disposal or packaging for shipment to a disposal facility.
5.E.1 General Considerations
In general, store materials and equipment in cabinets and on shelving designated for such storage:
• Avoid storing materials and equipment on top of cabinets. With all stored items, maintain a clearance of at least 18 inches from the sprinkler heads to allow proper functioning of the sprinkler system [see National Fire Protection Association Standard 13 (NFPA, 2010)].
• To make chemicals readily accessible and to reduce accidents caused by overreaching, do not store materials on shelves higher than 5 ft (~1.5 m). If retrieving materials stored above head level, use a step stool.
• Store heavy materials on lower shelves. While recommended for all laboratories, this is particularly important in areas where seismic activity is possible because items may fall during an earthquake.
• Keep exits, passageways, areas under tables or benches, and emergency equipment areas free of stored equipment and materials to allow for ease of egress and access in case of emergency.
Storing chemicals in stockrooms and laboratories requires consideration of a number of health and safety factors. In addition to the inventory control and storage area considerations discussed above, proper use of containers and equipment is crucial (see section 5.E.3).
In addition to the basic storage area guidelines above, follow these general guidelines when storing chemicals:
• Label all chemical containers appropriately to ensure that chemicals will be stored safely.
• Place the user’s name and the date received on all purchased materials to facilitate inventory control.
• To assist in maintaining a clean work environment and to ensure that segregation of incompatible chemicals is maintained, provide a definite storage place for each chemical and return the chemical to that location after each use.
• To avoid clutter, avoid storing chemicals on benchtops, except for those chemicals being used currently.
• To avoid clutter and to maintain adequate airflow, avoid storing chemicals in chemical hoods, except for those chemicals in current use.
• Store volatile toxic or odoriferous chemicals in a ventilated cabinet. Check with the institution’s environmental health and safety officer.
• Provide ventilated storage near laboratory chemical hoods.
• If a chemical does not require a ventilated cabinet, store it inside a closable cabinet or on a shelf that has a lip to prevent containers from sliding off in the event of a fire, serious accident, or earthquake.
• Do not expose stored chemicals to heat or direct sunlight.
• Observe all precautions regarding the storage of incompatible chemicals.
• Separate chemicals into compatible groups and store alphabetically within compatible groups. See Table 5.1 and Figure 5.1 for one suggested method for arranging chemicals. Because chemicals in storage are contained, their separation by compatibility groups can be simplified. The color-coded system described here allows for ease of storage. As explained in Chapter 6, compatibility precautions for mixing chemicals are far more complex.
• Store flammable liquids in approved flammable-liquid storage cabinets.
• Consider the security needs for the materials.