Which is the best available option for storage of Laboratory Chemicals?
On entering any laboratory you will come across chemicals and reagents stocked on workbench platforms and sidewall shelves. Have you ever wondered as to what would be the ideal plan for storage of chemicals.
The available options are:
- Unplanned Random storage
- Alphabetical sequence
- Storage by category
The merits and demerits of these options are discussed in this article
Unplanned random storage
A laboratory often resorts to an unplanned storage to suit individual convenience. This option may offer advantage of easy access but is ridden with potential hazards due to accidental contact between diverse groups such as acids and bases, oxidizing agents and flammable or water reactive chemicals. A major drawback of such a plan is that other users will waste their valuable time searching the required chemicals and after some time you will yourself not remember the storage sequence.
This option appears to be an attractive solution as it permits the location of any chemical without wasting your valuable time. Most laboratories opt for this plan but it overlooks the compatibility factor and can lead to serious consequences in case of accidents.
Storage by category
From safety point of view storage by category in dedicated shelves is a recommended option. Such classifications are based on properties such as flammability, acids, bases, toxic compounds, water reactive compounds, indicators, etc. This approach is somewhat inconvenient but the inconvenience can be reduced to a great extent by numbering the reagent bottles and containers and pasting number wise listings alongside the respective shelves. Only frequently used chemicals should be kept on workbench so as to avoid excessive movement inside the laboratory.
In addition to the plan adopted it is highly recommended to store corrosive, explosive or poisonous substances in separate cabinets under lock and key to prevent misuse or pilferage.
It is important that all chemicals should be properly labelled and labels should bear safety symbols. It is also important to bear in mind that the storage plan can work only if everyone understands the importance of returning the chemicals to their designated places after usage.