All labs are required to maintain a chemical inventory including, at a minimum, the chemicals outlined in the UW–Madison Chemical Hygiene Plan. In practice, it is highly recommend to keep a complete inventory of all chemicals. An accurate inventory is necessary to assist emergency responders as well as fulfill regulatory requirements. UW–Madison is responsible for complying with various regulatory requirements regarding hazardous materials and as such may need to provide certain inventory information to entities such as Madison Fire Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security. As such, inventory information must be made available to EH&S upon request.
Keeping an up to date inventory has many benefits. You can save money and space by reducing or eliminating unnecessary purchases, save time by maintaining appropriate stocks, and increase efficiency by making chemicals easier to locate. Furthermore, the removal of old and excess chemicals increases lab safety by lowering overall hazard levels and decreasing the likelihood of chemical issues in the lab.
Inventory information can be kept in any suitable format. For example, we have created a template excel spreadsheet available for download, with recommended categories to track. These categories include chemical name, amount/container capacity, quantity of containers, CAS# (if applicable), supplier, category number, and storage location. Many labs have had success using online databases as well as 3rd party vendors with additional features such as barcoding, tracking, and centralized ordering.
Inventory information should be updated whenever a new chemical is added to the laboratory. Chemicals which have been used or disposed of should also be removed in a timely fashion. Your inventory should be reviewed and reconciled annually. The annual review of your chemical inventory is a prime opportunity to evaluate your overall inventory of chemicals and clean out old, unwanted chemicals. Submit a pickup request, and EH&S will assist in the removal of any unwanted materials. Remember, many viable chemicals are redistributed to other labs on campus!