Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety Chemical Procurement, Storage & Distribution

Chemical Procurement, Storage & Distribution

The Principal Investigator or Lab Supervisor is responsible for access, storage, and use of hazardous chemicals in the laboratory environment. Hazardous chemical exposures and hazardous waste management pose unique challenges in the laboratory.  The following are some simple recommendations to get started.

  • Inventory:
    Develop and implement an inventory control system in order to determine which chemicals are necessary to laboratory operation and which are not, reducing inventories of unneeded chemicals. In addition, an inventory control system can identify theft and abuse of laboratory chemicals, ensure SDS and other hazard information is available for each hazardous chemical used in the lab, and identify chemical substances which require special controls or surveillance (e.g., DHS Chemicals of Interest, Select Agents, Carcinogens, Pyrophoric chemicals and/or Reproductive Toxins).

    Once an inventory is present, it can be updated when new chemicals are procured, when chemical stocks are consumed or old containers of chemicals are removed from the laboratory and on an annual basis. Inventory control is an essential aspect of a proper, workable chemical management system in the laboratory.

  • Procurement:
    No container shall be accepted without an adequate identifying label (identity of chemical, hazard warnings, manufacturer’s name and address). (Policy Reference WAC 296-62-055). Designate a person or persons who will be assigned as responsible for the acceptance or rejection of chemicals and materials brought into the laboratory. This designated person ensures that containers are properly labeled, and does not permit the material to be brought into the laboratory if improperly labeled.

    No container of hazardous chemical waste may be transported into a laboratory from any other laboratory or room on- or off-campus. The person(s) responsible for acceptance or rejection of hazardous chemical substances must not permit any container of hazardous chemical waste to enter the laboratory. (Policy Reference WAC 173-303) Exception: If a satellite accumulation area (SAA) is established outside a laboratory generation point, contact EH&S chemical waste management personnel (335-3041) for approval.

    Peroxidizable chemicals must be dated when received into the lab and used or disposed of within the period specified in Appendix C of this manual.

  • Storage:
    A designated storage system with easily identified areas should be arranged by hazard classification first, then alphabetically within each hazard group. Further information on incompatibles and chemical reactivity is provided in Appendix C of this manual.
  • Distribution:
    Distribution of chemicals should be overseen by a designated individual in order to maintain a current inventory. Distribution of chemicals includes moving them from the distribution area to the work area. When chemicals are hand carried, the original container should be placed in a secondary container such as a deep plastic tray, bucket or safety bottle carrier to protect against breakage and spillage. Freight-only elevators should be used, wherever possible. In addition, if gloves must be utilized, the carrying hand should be gloved and the other hand not gloved so that there is a minimal risk of cross contamination from touching door handles or elevator buttons.