Set Up Your Chemical Inventory Bar Code System in 5 Easy Steps

Fire Code Reporting

Regulatory compliance is one of the many challenges facing lab managers and EH&S workers today. Codes are meant to protect the worker starting with the very building and lab environment, and they are regularly updated to take advantage of new technology and safety research. Another tier of the system is chemical inventory management, in particular, hazardous materials.

Current codes emphasize inventory accuracy more than ever before. This is to ensure that emergency responders have the best tool to fight a fire – information. This information can save lives in the lab, in the community and in the fire department. If inaccurate reporting leads to damage, then the fiscal responsible lies with the business responsible for reporting. Because these regulations can number in the thousands and vary by state, it is important to streamline your inventory process as much as possible. This is the fifth post in a series of posts on fire code reporting.

There are many ways to manage chemical inventory, and the stereotypical idea of taking inventory with a paper spreadsheet is outdated. We are at a point where technology and software have converged to make keeping track of inventory easier and better than ever. Bar coding is a tool that is used in many industries, with everyone recognizing the familiar beep-beep-beep at a grocery checkout. Applied to lab inventory, bar coding is a way to link useful information to each chemical container.

See our previous post on choosing a chemical inventory software solution. ChemSW’s CISPro™ is an industry leader, and there are many add-ons to tailor a program that is perfect for your lab. Real-time, modern inventory systems incorporate bar coding.

Once you have your software loaded and ready, follow the steps in the program. Setting up your chemical inventory bar coding system will go a little something like this:

1. Select chemicals in the software program and print bar code labels for your containers.

2. Stick the label to the container in a standardized location. Make sure it is easy to access.

3. Scan the label and when prompted, input information about the chemical.

4. Compare storage practices to MSDS information in the software and make adjustments as needed for fire code compliance.

5. Scan all new inventory as it enters and enable users to update inventory information as it is moved and used.



When software designers are working on new solutions, it’s time to get creative. There is more than one way to solve a problem, and current tech opens up even more options. There are many examples of companies using new technology to improve regulatory compliance. Computers, bar codes, and smart devices with cameras are all here to stay. Today’s two year olds can work a tablet, and every year that goes by sees new advancements in technology. In addition to becoming a part of mainstream American life, new technology is also being adapted to many niche industries. In the chemical inventory niche, fire code compliance is made easier with bar coding and computer technology.

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