When flammable liquids are used in the workplace, it is very important that you store them in a safe and compliant location. Flammable liquids are extremely volatile and they give off a lot of flammable vapours at room temperatures. If these vapours come into contact with ignition sources or other incompatible chemicals, it can result in fires that can have severe effects upon the people, property and environment of your organisation.Throughout this article we will discuss the requirements for storing flammable liquids in the workplace to reduce the risks that they have upon the people and property of your organisation.
Separate from ignition sources
Flammable liquids are extremely volatile and they give off a lot of flammable vapours at relatively low temperatures. If these flammable vapours are brought into contact with an ignition source, they will ignite and cause a severe fire. One commonly used flammable liquid is petrol. Petrol is so volatile that it will ignite in the presence of an ignition source at temperatures as low as -43 °C. To avoid severe flammable liquids fires, flammable liquids must be separated from ignition sources. AS1940 which is the Australian Standard that outlines the requirements for the storage and handling of flammable liquids states that flammable liquids storage facilities must be segregated from ignition sources by at least 3 metres. Ignition sources can come in many different forms and they can be hard to identify in the workplace. Some examples of ignition sources include:
- Grinding and welding sparks
- Soldering iron
- Power points
- Electric motor
- Glowing embers
To minimise fire hazards in your workplace, it is important to carry out a dangerous goods risk assessment to ensure that all flammable liquids storage cabinets are separated from ignition sources. If some of your flammable liquids storage facilities are located next to ignition sources, the flammable liquid storage facility must be relocated immediately.
Segregate from Incompatible substances
When determining where to store flammable liquids in the workplace, you must consider the fact that there may be other substances in the workplace that are incompatible with flammable liquids. Of the nine classes of dangerous goods, there are a number of substances that are incompatible with flammable liquids and must be segregated to avoid violent chemical reactions. Violent chemical reactions between flammable liquids and other incompatible substances can cause fires and explosions which can produce pungent corrosive and toxic vapours.
To avoid these hazardous incidents, flammable liquids must be stored in a location that is well away from other incompatible chemicals. The correct segregation distances for safely storing flammable liquids with incompatible chemicals can be determined with a dangerous goods segregation chart. If you would like a free dangerous goods segregation chart, you can download it below.
Separate from protected places
To reduce the risks that fires caused by flammable liquids may have upon people in the workplace, flammable liquids storage facilities must be separated from protected places.
According to AS1940, a protected place is defined as:
A dwelling, residential building, place of worship, public building, school or college, hospital, theatre, and any building or open area in which persons are accustomed to assemble whether it is within or outside the property boundary of the installation.
The required separation distance of flammable liquids storage facilities from protected places depends on the quantity and the packing group of the flammable liquids that are being stored. The required separation distances can be found on table 4.1 in section 4 of AS1940.
Keep flammable liquids in a well ventilated area
Flammable liquids give off large quantities of flammable vapours. These vapours can have many effects upon the people in the workplace. If large quantities of flammable vapours are inhaled, it can cause nausea, headaches and asphyxiation. To reduce the risk that flammable vapours have upon people, it is important to store flammable vapours in a well ventilated area. To avoid financial liability due to non-compliance, flammable vapours in the workplace must be kept at a concentration that is below the workplace exposure standards. If the concentration of the flammable vapours within you flammable liquids storage cabinets exceed the workplace exposures standards, you may need a mechanical ventilation system.
Keep flammable liquids in a compliant cabinet or store
To ensure that flammable liquids pose the least amount of risk upon people, property and the environment, flammable liquids must be stored in a flammable liquids storage facility that has been constructed in full conformance to the Australian Standards. Safety cabinets and outdoor chemical storage containers that are used for the storage of flammable liquids must be designed and manufactured in full conformance to AS1940. AS1940 outlines the specific requirements for the design of facilities used for the storage of flammable liquids. This includes factors such as; ventilation, spillage containment, dangerous goods signage, separation and segregation.
As flammable liquids pose many risks upon the people, property and environment of your organisation, it is very important that you store the flammable liquids in your workplace in a safe and compliant location. A safe and compliant location will have adequate ventilation and will be away from ignition sources, protected places and other incompatible chemicals. If the flammable liquids in your workplace exceeds the quantities specified as minor storage, they must be stored in a compliant cabinet or chemical storage container. If you would like more information on how to reduce the risks associated with flammable liquids, download our FREE eBook by clicking on the image below.