Chemical Safety in the Workplace

Do You Know the Chemical Compatibility of Safety Cans?


Safety cans are used to safely store and transfer chemicals. But did you know putting an incompatible chemical into a safety container will affect the integrity of the can? Eventually it could rupture causing an incident and potential injuries.

Understanding your chemicals and their compatibility with safety can composition could prevent an incident in your workplace.

Chemical Safety in the Workplace 101: Chemical SDS

Chemical suppliers provide a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for every chemical. Keep a copy of the SDS close to the chemical storage area and to operating areas where people use it. Everything you need to know about safety, health and storage related to the chemical is on its SDS.

OSHA sets the requirements for an SDS. There are 16 sections defined, 12 of which are mandatory for every chemical. Section 7 describes storage and handling issues related to the chemical. This section also highlights incompatibility with other chemicals. Section 9 lays out the physical and chemical properties, while section 10 describes it stability and reactivity. All this information is useful when deciding on a safety can material.

Sections 12 through 15 must be consistent with the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). But, OSHA does not enforce the content related to these sections. They include information handled by other organizations.

Chemical Safety in the Workplace 102: An Introduction to Chemical Compatibility

Oval Polyethylene Safety Can for Flammables, 1 Gallon
Model 12162

Most safety cans are composed of three materials: stainless steel, polyethylene and galvanized steel. While stainless steel is resistant to attack from many chemicals, it is not fail-safe in all cases. Hydrochloric acid causes corrosion and stress corrosion cracking in stainless steel.

Polyethylene is the most widely used plastic on earth. It resists the corrosive effects of many acids, but isn’t suitable for storing hydrocarbon products like hexane and kerosene. These have a similar chemical makeup to polyethylene and can leak through it over time.

Type I Steel Safety Can, 5 Gallon
Model 7150100

Galvanized steel is compatible with most hydrocarbon products. But, it performs poorly when exposed to acids.

Justrite provides a free safety can chemical compatibility guide. It indicates what chemicals may be suitable for different safety can materials. However, the SDS of any chemical remains the primary source of storage and handling requirements. Follow the SDS in preference to any other guide.

For lab settings, Justrite offers safety containers and carboys made from a variety of materials. These include:

  • High density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Polyethylene
  • Polypropylene
  • Platinum-cured silicone
  • Copolyester

Find the chemical compatibility rating for these materials here. But, always check with the SDS for proper storage and handling instructions.

Chemical Safety in the Workplace 103: Order Your Safety Can from Justrite Today

Don’t let your workplace become the scene of a safety incident because of you didn’t know the chemical compatibility of a safety can. Review your chemical SDS and order the appropriate safety can from Justrite today. Browse through our available options and make your selection here.

Chemical Compatibility Chart Warning

Because of the complex nature of chemicals, Justrite cannot offer specific recommendations on chemical compatibility. Your chemical supplier, SDS sheets, or other expert sources should be consulted. This article is offered as a guide for convenience and is not a substitute for the user clearly understanding the nature and proper use of the chemicals.

To aid in your decision process to the select the appropriate Justrite product for your application, contact Justrite Customer Service to obtain sample material parts for you to test with the chemical you are using. Justrite makes no guarantee of results and assumes no obligation or liability in connection with the use of these products and their application relative to their chemical compatibility. It is the end user’s sole responsibility to determine the nature of the materials to be contained and to select the proper product suitable for a particular application. Furthermore, it is the end user’s responsibility to ensure that the product selected is suitable for its intended use. JUSTRITE MAKES NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR PURPOSE, and assumes no liability in connection with any product made or sold by Justrite with regard to its use or chemical compatibility.