Guidelines for chemical handling
- Know what chemical you work with and how to handle it safely. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is it dangerous to inhale?
- Is skin contact dangerous?
- Is it flammable?
- Is it reactive?
- Should you use a fume hood, gloves, goggles, or other protective equipment to handle the
To answer these questions:
- Read the label on the container.
- Read the MSDS.
- Ask your supervisor.
- Use the correct protective clothing and equipment for the material. Common personal protective
equipment (PPE) includes:
- Gloves that are impervious to the substance you are using.
- Eye protection such as goggles and safety glasses.
- Safety shoes or protective shoe coverings.
- Various types of dust masks or respirators.
- Prevent ingestion of chemicals.
- Always wash your hands before leaving your work area and before eating, drinking, putting
on lip balm, or smoking.
- Never store food or drinks in refrigerators used for chemical storage.
- Do not carry food, drinks, or cigarettes into an area where chemicals are present.
drinks, or cigarettes can become contaminated by dust or vapors in the air. Your hands can become
and then you can inadvertently contaminate your food, drink, or cigarettes.
- Keep your work area clean and uncluttered. Good housekeeping leads to fewer accidents.
- Be aware of and heed warning signs such as “CAUTION,” “DANGER,” “DO
NOT ENTER,” “EYE PROTECTION REQUIRED,” or “RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS.”
- If you do not understand, ask!
- Know what to do in an emergency. (See emergencies).
Guidelines for chemical storage
- Know what chemicals you have and their hazards. Clearly label each container.
- Label all chemical storage areas. Mark storage areas with the appropriate classifications
such as corrosives or flammables.
- Separate chemicals according to hazard class. Alphabetical storage is acceptable only
within the same hazard classification. Be sure to separate flammables from corrosives and toxics.
Some chemicals will react with each other even if they are in the same hazard class. For example,
acids and bases, although both corrosive, can react and produce toxic gases. If you must store
them close together, use a secondary container such as a plastic container with a lid to keep them
- General guidelines
- Shelving should be sturdy.
- Storage areas should be ventilated.
- Store chemicals away from direct sunlight and heat.
- Date all chemicals when you receive them. Some chemicals become unstable over time. Dispose
of unstable chemicals before they become dangerous.
- Never store flammables near any source of ignition.
- Store solvents in a well-ventilated area. Drums should be stored in a cool place away
from ignition sources and direct sunlight. Solvents stored inside buildings should be kept in fireproof
storage cabinets. When transferring flammable solvents between containers, you must ground and
the containers to prevent sparking.
- Corrosives (acids and bases) must be stored separately. Keep them away from direct sunlight.
Do not store corrosives should in metal cabinets, as the chemicals may cause the cabinet to corrode.
- Always secure compressed gas cylinders by a chain, strap, rack, or some other means to
prevent falling. Keep the protective caps in place when the cylinder is moved or not in use. Store
empty cylinders in separate places, clearly marked.
- Store water reactive chemicals away from other chemicals. Inform the local fire department
of the location of these chemicals so they know how to handle them in case of an emergency.
- Other chemicals may require special storage conditions. Call the environmental health
and safety office for help with any chemical storage questions.
Guidelines for chemical disposal
- Unlabeled chemical waste causes severe problems for our waste disposal personnel. Therefore,
properly label all chemical waste before sending to our waste disposal area, which is in the chemistry
building in room 211. The label description should include chemical name (no abbreviations) and
your department and location. Any questions about the information required on the label should be
to the environmental health and safety office.
- Do not assume it is safe to pour chemical waste down the drain, even if it is diluted.
Legal and ecological repercussions can result. Never put chemical wastes in trashcans or dumpsters.
you are sure that it is safe, treat all chemical waste as a hazardous material.
- Discarded or broken glass that has been contaminated with chemicals must be packaged and
disposed of separately to prevent accidental cuts and punctures.
- Put all needles, whether used on humans or not, in red “biohazard” containers
and send to the hazardous waste collection area for special disposal.
- Call the environmental health and safety office to help with the cleanup of hazardous
- Call the environmental health and safety office for cleanup of any oils that may have
leaked from old fluorescent light ballasts or other electrical equipment. Such oil may contain PCBs.
information on PCB hazards, ask the environmental health and safety office.
- Properly dispose of animal remains from laboratories in biohazard containers. Follow the
same procedures as for hazardous wastes. Ask the environmental health and safety office for more
index | next page