How a successful hazardous chemicals management strategy looks like

February 25, 2023 | Lab Furniture

In the lab, most of the significant hurdles can be flagged right away. But there are stealthy hurdles that tend to escape our attention unless they’ve already caused major problems. And the CRB group identified one such challenge - managing your lab’s hazardous chemicals.

A difference exists between a good strategy and a great strategy. A good strategy is more of a core responsibility, protecting your building’s occupants and the general public from harm. Meanwhile, a great strategy goes beyond and aids in designing a facility that’s not only amenable but also flexible over time, including the handling of chemicals.

Maximum Allowable Quantities (MAQs) determines how much a certain lab chemical can store, handle or dispense as a function in part of the decisions that were made during the building’s design programming stage. These include the incorporation of control areas, safety features, and hazardous chemical management strategy, all of which become an integral business tool and correspondingly, the health of the lab team.

As provided by CRB group, there are three key features to a great hazardous chemical management strategy.

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It comes into play from day one. 

Engaging and documenting your strategy from the earliest planning stages is key to saving you from incurring additional costs when surprises of retrofitting your building does occur. Knowing in advance which floors need fireproofing or where to place an interior control area is an opportunity that ensures only the best possible experience for your lab team.

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It dictates the design and location of control areas, specialty cabinets, and other containment systems. 

To design a lab that provides a certain level of convenience or bench-side access to the most frequently used solvents/reagents/gases , one has to know who comprises the lab team and what they need.

For instance, established labs document the risks of different chemicals in complex data sheets called, Hazardous Materials Inventory Statement (HMIS). But for smaller operations, they have to understand all the hazardous lab chemicals present in the facility and categorize them in order to get a snapshot of the potential hazards. Estimating the volume and types of chemicals that your lab team needs allows you to develop and plan chemical containment areas in strategic locations.

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Goes beyond what the code requires.

If not always, the lab team is often on the brink of a breakthrough as they develop new techniques and experiment with novel molecules. Thus, going as far as the code requires does them great disservice. And when baseline safety standards no longer work, it is vital to use the approach called Alternate Means and Methods (AM&M) or Performance-Based Design Alternatives (PBDA). This increases the level of safety in the facility.

Taking into mind these key features to your hazardous chemical management strategy will be advantageous for you.  

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