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Loss Control Insights for Schools

Preventing Chemical Stockpiles in Schools

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Off the top of your head, can you name all the chemicals currently used or stored in your school? It’s easy to lose track of laboratory materials. A teacher may purchase a chemical for an experiment one year only to use a different experiment the following year. Instances like this, combined with ordering substances in bulk and high teacher turnover, can lead to stockpiles of old, outdated and potentially hazardous chemicals. The best way to prevent this from happening is to establish a chemical purchasing policy.

Developing a Purchasing Policy

Developing a purchasing policy will help your district monitor future chemical purchases. When developing a policy, start by asking a few questions.

  • How does your school receive chemicals?
  • Who is currently purchasing the chemicals?
  • How much of each chemical is being purchased at a time?
  • Does your district accept donated chemicals?

You can avoid the expenses associated with managing and disposing of large amounts of chemicals by only purchasing chemicals when you need them. EMC recommends maintaining less than a two-year supply of any chemical.

Review The Educational Value of Chemicals

As part of your purchasing policy, you should review the educational value of every chemical you purchase. Determine whether the chemical helps meet your educational or facility maintenance needs. Then check to see if there is a less hazardous chemical available that still accomplishes these goals. When purchasing chemicals, always looks for materials that provide the greatest educational value with the lowest risk.

Don’t Accept Donated Chemicals

You should not accept donated chemicals, product samples or promotional products. Although donated chemicals are free, they may not always support your curriculum. More importantly, by accepting donated chemicals you are also accepting the safety and disposal responsibilities that accompany them.

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