The new CLP/GHS symbols have now universally replaced the old CHIP ones, however, there will be older containers of chemicals with the old label on around for quite a few years to come.
Most chemicals found in school science departments have some form of hazard attached to them and so it is extremely important that they are only handles by authorised, trained personnel.
In order to achieve this, all hazardous chemicals should be stored securely. The phrase used frequently in the entries for hazardous chemicals is ‘securely in store’, which means that the substance can be kept on an open shelf in a store which is kept locked and to which only authorised persons have access.
If the store has a greater degree of openness, then there is a case for locking such substances in cupboards within the store.
It is not necessary to have an outside store. In fact they should be avoided if at all possible. Indeed, many advantages lie in having the store inside the building. These include the ease of retrieving and returning chemicals and added security from vandals. If only authorised teachers and technicians have access to the store then there is no need for the locked, so called, “poisons cupboard” inside that store. Frequently, these “poisons cupboards” have resulted in potentially dangerous situations where several highly incompatible chemicals end up packed closely together. For example, phosphorus under water has been found beside barium metal and barium peroxide in such cupboards!
Where there is a smaller degree of security or less control over access, then some of the more hazardous substances may have to be kept in locked cupboards inside the room. For example, where preparation rooms are used for storage – but for operational reasons cannot always be locked – such more secure inner storage may be required.
An important facet of chemicals storage is that of incompatibility. Some chemicals can react violently or in general dangerously with other chemicals and so should be stored as far away from them as is practicable. A good example is oxidising agents and flammable substances.