What Can You Do with Your Free Manufacturer Chemical Samples?

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch because there’s always a catch. This is illustrated in the chemical inventory world too. What I mean is, free manufacturer samples aren’t really free; they come with some extra work to do. What do you do if the chemical is not already in your inventory system? What if that sample if toxic? How do you make sure the sample is in compliance with fire codes and hazardous materials reporting?   A Little Something Extra When you receive shipments of chemical inventory, the manufacturers sometimes want to give you a little something extra. It’s a way of saying thanks and also introducing you to new supplies that you might find useful and thus purchase. Yet, the “gift” doesn’t account for how to transport, store and dispose of this material you weren’t expecting. It might happen that you receive a sample of a toxic material. OSHA and the EPA are working hard to protect people in the workplace by dictating what chemicals can be present. However, if the inventory receiving is handled by individual researchers, then the EH&S department might not know what is even on site. If they don’t know, then the fire department probably doesn’t know. And we all know what that means… fire code compliance went right out the window.

Safety Depends on Accurate Inventory Reporting Emergency responders, lab personnel and community members all depend on industrial safety codes. Safety is the forefront consideration in the lab. Fire fighters must know what is inside the building before they can safely enter. If they don’t have good information, it’s dangerous and it is possible they won’t even go in. EH&S professionals and lab personnel can make a difference by letting their supervisors know about problems as they arise. Entire lab buildings have burned because there was not an accurate inventory list. In some cases, emergency responders have had to let the whole building burn to the ground rather than risk their lives with unknown hazards. This is an extreme case, and probably wasn’t about free samples, but this is a cringe-worthy precautionary tale nonetheless. Prevention and early intervention are really the key to solving a lot of life’s problems, much like preventing adult issues with early childhood education and therapy, labs can work on preventing accidents before they happen. What we’re looking for is a good chemical inventory management system that will adapt to new chemicals and that is in place before the free samples arrive.

A Best Practices Solution for An Adaptable Inventory System With a best practices system in place, the gatekeeper who receives the inventory can bar code the sample, look up the MSDS information in the software program, and assign the chemical to a proper hazardous material storage location based on fire code control areas. For some reporting requirements, the maximum allowable quantity is one gallon or one pound or any amount. So making sure that toxic free samples are included in reports is very important. The top of the line software solutions can help enable turnkey regulatory reports for not just fire code reporting, but also HMIS, Tier II, and Title 19. Here’s more good news, if you never end up using that free chemical sample, your best in breed inventory management system can alert you when it expires so you can send it to chemical waste and out of your life. ChemSW has several software solutions that can create an efficient inventory system to fit any lab, so please give us a call if you’re looking for a new way to run things.

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