Use SECONDARY CONTAINMENT on those bottles! Put them in plastic trays or some other form of containment that will hold liquid before you put them on shelves. Also - the shelves should ideally be made of a composite material or treated wood - not metal. Metal shelves will rust rapidly in the presence of corrosive materials. You should also check out your ventilation.
WC Environmental, LLC
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From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Andrew Gross
Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 6:04 PM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Safe Storage of Chemicals
If you remember I recently got a job and all is going great. I'm
trying to reorganize the lab being many of us are new. So far I have
isolated bulk/strong acids and bases in their own cabinets. We also
have many acids and bases that we use day to day and keep them out in
the open. Most of them are relatively weak, but some are very strong.
In the past, the company kept things at workstations. I (and my boss)
didn't think that was a very good idea. To much clutter, to many
expired/unstandardized chemicals going un noticed and to many
duplicates. We decided on one bottle of everything, no more, but
perhaps less (zero) if it isn't used often and easy to make.
To my question, these small (less then 1L) caustics need to be left
out, eventually I'll push for a proper storage cabinet for non-bulk
items, but until then they are on a shelf. I decided to store the
acids on the bottom shelf of the left bay, and the bases on the bottom
shelf of the right bay with neutral solutions on the top shelves and
in the middle bay. My philosophy being that if the bottle falls, it
doesn't fall far. If it leaks, it leaks on empty bench space, and if
it does spread to surrounding chemicals, it is either a like chemical
or a neutral chemical. All acids and bases are at least 4ft apart
separated by 2 shelf walls.
I don't have much to work with, I know it could be a lot safer, but if
anyone can think of any ideas with what I described I would like to
On Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 9:15 AM, Nail, John<jnail**At_Symbol_Here**okcu.edu> wrote:
> Let me see if I have this straight -
> A researcher uses an extinguisher to put out a lab fire.
> An OSHA investigator cites the institution for lack of documented extinguisher training, despite the obvious fact that the researcher was able to successfully put out the fire.
> The local FD begins to remove extinguishers from the labs.
> My suggestion about putting out trash can fires was in regards to the OSHA training issue. BTW- when I was at another university, all Chemistry department personnel were required to use an extinguisher to put out an oil fire during the annual safety training.
> As a trained firefighter, you can be as angry as you want to over the idea that 'untrained' (unwashed?) people dare to put out fires. As a trained chemist who has worked extensively with pyrophoric materials, I am angry over your attitude that lab workers should not be allowed to extinguish small lab fires. As an educator, I would not let students use flammable liquids in a lab unless an extinguisher was available for me to use in any incidents.
> This idea of 'remove safety equipment because lab personnel are too stupid/untrained/untrustworthy to use it properly is condescending, and frankly, leads to an attitude that gets people killed.
> What EVERYONE needs to recognize is that there is a significant difference between a small hood fire and a major building fire. Whomever first discovers the small hood fire should put it out if they can do so safely, and yes, those of us who have handled dangerous materials, know a thing or two about working safely. And, no, I would try to fight a large fire. Yes, someone has to use their judgment when assessing the situation.
> Whether the issue is extinguishers in lab areas or freshman chemistry students wearing gloves, the key question is 'do we teach how to assess risks and use the PPE and safety equipment that is appropriate to that risk or do we give students a mindless set of rules?'
> In regards to the 'this is how its done in industry' argument, yes, I have been in industry. Industry and academia are two very different cultures. People in industry have different motivations than do people in academia. Industry and academia are not valid comparisons.
> It's easier to create rules than to think.
> John Nail
> Professor of Chemistry
> Oklahoma City University
> -----Original Message-----
> From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU] On Behalf Of Andrew Gross
> Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 5:03 PM
> To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
> Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Extinguishers
> I can not agree more. I wrote almost an identical email, but I
> decided to wait 24 hours to let my anger at the suggestion die down to
> make sure I wasn't coming on strong. Here is what I wrote yesterday:
> I have to strongly disagree with your live burn training. As a
> firefighter, I am trained to recognize and understand the difference
> between a Class A through D fire. What you are describing would be a
> Class A fire, which for cost reasons, would most likely be put out
> with a Class A extinguisher/Water Can. The students would know how to
> put out a class A combustible fire sure, but that is the furthest
> thing from a threat in a laboratory.
> In a lab you have to worry about the class B (oil based) and class D
> (misc/exotic) fires. Even if the student is educated in which
> extinguisher to grab, attacking a Class B or D fire in the same tactic
> that you would attack a class A fire would most definitely be
> catastrophic, only to encourage the spread of the involved material.
> What students need to be taught is fire prevention and the basics and
> have them constantly reinforced. First, never panic, stop drop and
> roll in fire, know your exits and stay low during evacuation as well
> as use of a fire blanket. We don't need heros in the laboratory, we
> need prudent, safe workers. Leave the hero game to trained
> professionals or someone will get hurt.
> Perhaps the FD removed the cans for a reason. A class A extinguisher
> has no place in a lab and you are better off with nothing. You need a
> combination of A/B/C and B/C cans as well as the proper D can for
> whatever is in the lab (ie, purple K for phosphorus)
> To the contrary, I like the "don't panic" training you laid out. If
> you would like more consultation on that feel free to ask.
> Sorry to knock your idea in public, but setting a garbage can on fire
> and calling it training is just asking for a funeral when a chem fire
> erupts and some dope thinks its the same attack.
> On Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 10:31 AM, List Moderator<ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**uvm.edu> wrote:
>> From: rj**At_Symbol_Here**strem.com
>> Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Extinguishers
>> Date: August 12, 2009 10:03:56 AM EDT
>> There are a lot of different regulations that we all have to abide by,
>> and they can be very confusing as to which ones to follow. Being a
>> firefighter, I can tell you that Debbie is correct when it comes to Fire
>> Code. Your local/state fire marshal's office decides the regulations,
>> but that does not mean if you have fire extinguishers present to ignore
>> OSHA regulations.
>>> From a firefighter's standpoint, when it comes to fires in a lab, we
>> never like to see anyone try to extinguish a fire. The reasoning for
>> this is, the student/employee does not have on the correct PPE on to try
>> to fight a fire. Working with chemicals we know that a fire can get out
>> of control very quickly, and we don't want anyone getting caught in a
>> situation like that without firefighter experience, proper training, or
>> correct PPE.
>> After that being said fire extinguishers still belong in the lab. The
>> main propose of a fire extinguisher is for defensive use. Meaning, if
>> there was a fire that blocked the exits of a room, a fire extinguisher
>> should be available to use to assure the safe exit of everyone from the
>> room/building. So, I completely disagree with the removal of the fire
>> extinguishers from the facility, your lab needs to have training at
>> least once a year, and ask the fire department for help with the
>> training. Fire extinguishers are a life safety tool and they should be
>> You should also check with your local fire department to see if the
>> community has adopted National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
>> standards. If they have adopted them then you would want to get NFPA 10
>> Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers.
>> Best regards,
>> R.J. Wolcik
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