Our Technical Support Team are regularly contacted by school and college Science Department staff seeking advice on the use, storage and disposal of chemicals.
Chemicals are widely used throughout the Science curriculum. Their safe storage, use and disposal is highly important within schools and colleges.
CLEAPSS Guidance on the use of chemicals is highly extensive and you should always consult with their Guides and HazCards whenever chemicals are used your school.
- Chemicals should always be purchased from reputable science education suppliers.
- On arrival, the chemical bottles should be dated. This will help you and the Technician Team to keep track of what has arrived when, and to ensure that the older bottles of chemicals are used up first, thus allowing good stock rotation and to limit waste.
- All containers and caps should be checked regularly. If any degradation is found, the bottle and cap should both be replaced, checking the particular storage needs for that chemical.
- A Chemical inventory should be kept, and it should be updated regularly as to when chemicals are removed or used up from the store. It is also a sensible idea for your school Premises Team to have a copy of the inventory in case of any emergencies.
- MSDS Sheets for all of the chemicals should also be stored in a central location.
- Individual CLEAPSS HazCards must be given out with any chemicals entering the classroom.
Storage of Chemicals
The chemicals held your schools or college must be stored safely and securely, preferably in a ventilated lockable storeroom if possible. If a designated chemical storeroom is unavailable in your school, secure lockable cupboards inside a lockable room could be used, and the quantity of chemicals held should be kept to a minimum.
Individual chemicals all have their own hazard designations. These designations identify how the chemical should be stored. CLEAPSS HazCards and Handbook Section 7 give all of the relevant information on the different designations for each chemical.
General Organic and Inorganic chemicals can be stored on labelled shelves. Flammable, Toxic and Corrosive chemicals all require appropriate lockable cabinets for their relevant hazard. Stocks should be closely monitored throughout the year, to ensure that no chemicals go missing.
A full annual stock check should be in place towards the end of the school year, to both prepare for the students' return in September, and also to ensure that the chemical store is safe during the summer break.
We are able to supply a range of different chemical storage cupboards in various sizes.
Expiry Dates on Chemicals
Our Technical Support Team also receive many queries regarding the expiration dates of chemicals, new and old. Only some of the chemicals used in schools and colleges ‘go off’ as such. Chemicals are expensive, and their disposal is even more so.
It is always good practice to trial any chemicals being used before sending them into the classroom. This could save you the cost of disposal if the chemical is still viable and would also help to prevent the ‘it didn’t work’ conversation after a lesson.
As a rule, our chemical supplier gives a recommended shelf-life of 12 months for all unopened chemicals.
Disposal of Chemical Waste
You need to be aware of the range of legislation covering the disposal of chemical waste in your school or college.
The HSE provides a wide range of advice and guidance for those who need to dispose of hazardous chemicals and substances. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 places an explicit duty of care on all those handling chemical waste, including those producing it. It also places a duty of care on the disposer to ensure that waste does not harm future handlers. The legislation is implemented in England and Wales by the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005.
These regulations mean that hazardous wastes from schools and colleges are to be considered differently to domestic and household wastes, and this has implications for how they must be dealt with.
Further advice can be obtained from CLEAPSS.
Low hazard chemical waste
Some low hazard chemical waste can be disposed of in-house directly by the Technician following the relevant CLEAPSS HazCard advice.
Hazardous chemical waste
Hazardous chemical waste must be collected by a registered waste carrier. In some instances, such as transport and disposal of desensitised explosives, the carrier will need a classification or an authorisation from the HSE - see HSE Explosives – Classification for Transport.
CLEAPSS are able to provide a list of registered hazardous waste disposal companies and where schools and colleges are setting up or making changes to arrangements for disposal, they are advised to contact CLEAPSS to discuss their requirements and the appropriate arrangement.
Our recommended hazardous waste disposal specialists are All Waste Matters Ltd.
Unit 1: Joseph Wilson Ind Est., Whitstable, Kent, CT5 3PS Telephone: 01227 280777 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hazardous waste - non chemical
You must also be aware that in addition to chemicals, hazardous waste may include other items (such as computers, fluorescent light tubes and refrigerators). Schools and college can check their responsibilities with the Environment Agency (EA) on how to classify different types of waste and use the EA’s hazardous waste guidance, which sets out steps that must be followed when producing.