Flammable liquids such as paints, thinners, petrol and acetone are extremely volatile substances. Because of their high flammability, flammable liquids must be stored in a safe and compliant manner. Failure to store flammable liquids in a safe manner can result in severe harm to people, property and the environment of your organisation. If your organisation uses flammable liquids indoors, the use of a flammable storage cabinet is both essential and a requirement of the Australian Standard AS1940.
AS1940 is the Australian Standard that outlines the requirements for the storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. Only flammable liquids storage cabinets that have been manufactured in full conformance to the design requirements of AS1940 can be used for the storage of flammable liquids.
Using a flammable liquids storage cabinet is a great start to meeting compliance, however the cabinet must also be used and positioned in the correct manner to meet full compliance. The guidelines for the use of flammable storage cabinets in the workplace is outlined below.
To ensure that the flammable liquids in your workplace pose the minimum level of risk upon the people and property of your workplace, flammable storage cabinets must be position in a strategic manner. The positioning requirements according to AS1940 are outlined below:
- Flammable storage cabinets that have a capacity greater than 850L must not be placed nearer than 3 metres to any wall that is common with another room. There is an exception to this requirement if the wall is constructed of concrete or masonry and it extends 3m above the top of the flammable cabinet and 3 meters either side.
- Cabinets that have a capacity greater than 850L shall not be placed on any floor other than those that have direct access to the street or ground level.
- Flammable cabinets having a capacity greater than 850L should only be installed in factories and workshops. They must not be installed in:
- Residential accommodation buildings
- Aged care buildings
- Commercial buildings
- Flammable storage cabinets must be positioned in a location that doesn’t impede the escape of personnel in the event of an emergency
Maximum storage capacity for flammable cabinets
Storing flammable liquids indoors poses many risks upon the people and property of your organisation. To minimise this risk, AS1940 has set certain limits on the maximum quantities of flammable liquids that can be stored indoors. According to AS1940, the aggregate capacity of cabinets that can be used indoors are:
- 850L per 250m2 of floor space on ground floors
- 250L per 250m2 of floor space on floors other than ground floors
In all cases, each aggregate quantity of flammable liquids, (850L on ground floors and 250L on other floors), must be segregated by at least 10m.
To ensure that all visitors and workers in your organisation are aware of the potential hazards associated with flammable liquids, all flammable storage cabinets must be marked with the relevant dangerous goods signage. All dangerous goods signage must be clearly visible when the doors of the flammable storage cabinet are closed. The required dangerous goods signage of flammable storage cabinets include:
Class 3 - Flammable liquids Sign
No Smoking No Ignition Source Within 3m
To ensure that cabinet maintenance requirements are attended to in a swift manner, the cabinet manufacturers name, phone number and address must be clearly marked on the cabinet.
Exclusion of ignition sources
Flammable liquids are extremely volatile. At temperatures below 60 °C, flammable liquids will give off enough flammable vapours to ignite in the presence of an ignition source. To avoid the risk of fires, ignition sources must never be placed within flammable storage cabinets. Flammable liquids storage cabinets must also be positioned in a location that is at least 3 metres from any ignition source measured horizontally. Ignition sources must also be excluded from the cabinet by 1 metre above any opening on the cabinet.
Exclusion of incompatible chemicals
Class 3 flammable liquids are incompatible with a number of other dangerous substances. If incompatible substances mix, it can result in violent chemical reactions that could harm the people and property of your organisation. To reduce the risk of workplace incidents, incompatible substances must not be stored inside flammable storage cabinets.
Flammable storage cabinets are also a safe and efficient way to segregate flammable liquids from incompatible classes of dangerous goods. If incompatible classes of dangerous goods are not stored in separate safety cabinets, they have to be separated by certain distances outlined the Australian Standards AS3833. These distances are normally 3-5 metres and can be hard to achieve in confined spaces.
As flammable liquids pose a number of risks upon the people and property of your organisation, it is very important that you use your flammable storage cabinet in full conformance to AS1940. These requirements include:
- Positioning your cabinet in a safe location
- Only storing compatible substances within the cabinet
- Segregating the cabinet from ignition sources
- Storing no more than 850L per 250 m2 of floor space
- Marking the cabinet with the correct dangerous goods signage
Failure to adhere to these requirements could result in workplace incidents involving harm to workers and loss of property. If you would like more information on how to reduce the risk associated with flammable liquids, download our FREE eBook by clicking on the image below.