Acids are hazardous materials that require careful handling and safe storage to prevent injuries, illnesses, and damage to buildings and the environment. Like other hazardous chemical types, the category includes a large number of substances and are used across a wide variety of industries including engineering, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, textiles, foodstuffs, and more.
Due to their highly corrosive nature, acids present dangers to anyone who comes in contact with them: inhaling the vapours can lead to long-term health effects, and strong acids (and vapours) are corrosive to human tissue.
To meet COSHH regulations and store these hazardous materials safely, you’ll need to follow a prescriptive list of best practices based on the types of chemical hazards in your facility. In this guide, we will provide an overview of safe chemical storage for storing acids and solvents.
Are you looking for more safe chemical storage information generally? Refer back to our simple guide for meeting safe chemical storage requirements.
Safe Chemical Storage Basics for Acids, Solvents, & Other Hazardous Materials
As always, your first port of call in working with and storing acids are your chemical safety data sheets and the COSHH guidelines. However, the principles for storing these chemicals remain roughly the same as other hazardous materials:
- Keep the chemicals in their appropriate containers and ensure the containers are closed and returned to storage when not in use.
- Label the container with the correct details.
- Store acids in the correct chemical storage cabinets, segregated from other non compatible materials as required.
What to Do in Case of Acid Spills
Preparing for a potential spill is a key component of your chemical safety management plan. Many of the steps for cleaning up an acid spill are similar to any other chemical spill. You need to report the spill, evacuate the area, and follow dedicated emergency procedures. Then, you’ll use a spill kit with appropriate PPE, ideally one designed for acids.
If you store acids, you can also use an acid neutraliser as part of your spill kit. An acid neutraliser can absorb the liquid and neutralise the acid to make it much safer and easier to clean up. A change in colour indicates that the neutraliser has worked and you can proceed with the clean up.
You can read more general information in our guide to chemical spill control.
Best Practices for Storing Acids
Acids aren’t just corrosive in liquid form: acid fumes are also corrosive, so it’s best to store these in ventilated Corrosives Safety Cabinets.
Ideally, your Corrosives Safety Cabinet should not be metallic, as the corrosive vapours will corrode a metal cabinet over time. Corrosive Cabinets are available manufactured in all plastic or plastic laminate which is resistant to corrosion by acid spills and corrosive vapours. If there is the likelihood of spillage or vapours in the cabinet, you should consider extracting the harmful vapours out of the cabinet to atmosphere outside the building.
Do you have more questions about storing acids? Ask the UK’s chemical storage experts. Safety Storage Systems has 20 years of expertise in helping site and building managers execute strong chemical safety plans and meet COSHH requirements. Get in touch to speak with our experts today, and find out the best storage solution for your needs.