The HSE-gateway
Rules, handling chemicals

General rules for handling chemicals

These rules help to prevent contamination of the chemicals, but can also be used to prevent users from having problems caused by undesirable events during use.

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  • Do not return chemicals to their original packaging. An incompatible mixture may accidentally be formed.
  • Keep chemical containers closed. Dust and vapour may escape from an open container, while gases and suspended material may penetrate this, causing the nature of the chemical to change. This will also avoid unnecessary exposure.
  • Never use a wrong or an unmarked reagent. If you are unsure about the compound, do not use it. Instead, have it disposed of (see Disposal of Hazardous Waste).
  • Never put spatulas, stirrers or other objects into a storage container for chemicals. Remove the contents by pouring and rolling the contents of the glass into a beaker, glass container or other suitable equipment. Spatulas may be used with caution in laboratory reagent containers. Remember the labelling (see the Safety Rules for working in lab).
  • Once removed from the bottle or glass, cork stoppers must be placed on a clean surface (e.g. a watch glass or other suitable equipment) with the opening facing down. This is to avoid contamination of the compound and unnecessary exposure.
  • Chemical bottles must not be carried by the neck of the bottle, nor next to your body. Suitable carrying arrangements should be employed, e.g. buckets or trolleys.
  • When pouring from bottles, the label should always face upward to prevent any spillage from destroying the label.
  • Never put any chemicals in the bottle other than the one indicated on the label.
  • Special precautions should be taken when handling concentrated acids. Dilution of acids should be performed by pouring the acid into water and stirring continuously.


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