If your organisation uses flammable liquids on a regular basis, it’s a very important to store and handle them in a way that reduces the risk they pose upon the people, property and environment of your organisation. Flammable liquids are very volatile substances that give off flammable vapours at temperatures below 60.5 degrees Celsius. These flammable vapours have the ability to ignite and cause severe fires.
To control the risk of fires caused by flammable liquids, you must take proactive measures to ensure that the flammable liquids on your premises are managed in a safe and compliant manner. This involves keeping flammable liquids away from ignition sources, storing large quantities of flammable liquids in complaint facilities and in the outdoors, and segregating them from other incompatible classes of dangerous goods.
Indoor and outdoor storage
To ensure that flammable liquids pose the minimum amount of risk upon the people and property of your organisation, it’s a good practice to store large quantities of flammable liquids outdoors. Storing flammable liquids outdoors reduces the risk of property loss in the event of a fire. If a fire started inside your building, the flammable liquids stored within would ignite making the fire very intense. These fires often consume whole warehouses and kill people.
If you need to store flammable liquids inside your building, you must not store any more than 850L in a single flammable liquids storage cabinet. On ground floors, no more than 850L of flammable liquids can be stored per 250 m2 of floor space. On other floors other than the ground floor, no more than 250L is allowed to be stored per 250 m2 of floor space. Each flammable storage cabinet must also be segregated by at least 10m.
If you are storing more than 850L of flammable liquids per 250 m2 of workshop floor space, it’s best to store these bulk quantities of flammable liquids outdoors. This reduces the risk of property loss and harm to people in the event of a fire. Storing flammable liquids outdoors also reduces your exposure to flammable vapours that can have severe effects upon your health. Up to 32,000L of flammable liquids can be stored safely outdoors by utilising compliant outdoor flammable liquids stores.
Keep flammable liquids away from ignition sources
When you are storing flammable liquids in the workplace, it’s also very important to keep flammable liquids well away from any ignition sources. Flammable liquids give off flammable vapours and a 4% concentration of flammable vapours in air is enough to make a gaseous mixture that will ignite in the presence of an ignition source. To reduce the risk of fires, all ignition sources must be excluded from flammable storage cabinets by a distance of at least 3 metres measured laterally. Ignition sources must also be excluded from any opening on the flammable storage cabinets by a distance of at least 1m measured vertically. At all times, ignition sources must never be kept inside the flammable storage cabinet.
As flammable liquids give off flammable vapours, its very important to ensure that these flammable vapours are controlled to ensure that they do not come into contact with any ignition sources. If flammable vapours come into contact with any ignition sources, they will ignite and cause a severe fire that could harm the people and property of your organisation. To reduce the risk of fires, its very important to ensure that all flammable liquids storage facilities are provided with adequate natural or mechanical ventilation. The ventilation requirements will depend on the type of flammable liquids being stored. In all instances the ventilation system must be sufficient to keep the concentration of flammable vapours within the store below the lower explosive limit. The lower explosive limit is the minimum concentration (as a percentage) of flammable vapours in air that will cause a fire in the presence of an ignition source. When a ventilation system is installed on an indoor storage cabinet, the flammable vapours must be dispersed to the outside atmosphere, in a location that is away from any ignition sources or places where people congregate.
Safe and compliant flammable liquid storage facilities
Another important consideration is to ensure that the facility used to store any flammable liquids is safe, and compliant with the Australian Standards and Regulations. There two main types of flammable liquids stores. These include:
The design requirements for indoor flammable liquids storage cabinets and outdoor relocatable stores differ. Indoor storage cabinets are much smaller storage facilities that are designed to keep between 30L - 850L of flammable liquids. These stores must have a dual skinned construction, self-closing closing-fitting doors, perforated shelving and a spill containment sump that is at least 150mm deep.
Outdoor flammable liquids stores normally have larger storage capacities. These stores are used to store quantities of flammable liquids ranging from 30L - 32,000L. For an outdoor flammable liquids store to be compliant, they must have a spill containment sump that is capable of containing 100% of the volume of the largest package kept inside the store, along with 25% of the storage capacity up to 10,000L, together with 10% of the storage capacity between 10,000L and 100,000L, and 5% above 100,000L. The store must also have sufficient mechanical or natural ventilation that will keep the concentration of flammable vapours below the lower explosive limit. For outdoor flammable liquid stores, natural ventilation is the most effective method of ventilation. Outdoor flammable liquid stores must also be earthed so that any static electricity that may build up inside the store is discharged into the ground.
You must also mark both indoor flammable storage cabinets and outdoor flammable liquid stores with the relevant dangerous goods signage. This will include a “Class 3 - Flammable Liquid” placard and a “No Smoking No Ignition Sources Within 3 Metres” sign.
Segregating flammable liquids from incompatible substances
Safe and compliant segregation of flammable liquids from other incompatible classes of dangerous goods, is another important factor that you must consider when storing flammable liquids in the workplace. If flammable liquids come into contact with other incompatible substances such as oxidising agents, they will react dangerously and cause harm to the people in your workplace. There are nine different classes of dangerous goods and each class must be segregated from flammable liquids by certain distances.
As flammable liquids are very volatile substances, it’s very important that you store them in a safe and compliant manner to reduce the risks they pose upon your workplace. Fires that result from flammable liquids mixing with other incompatible classes of dangerous goods can damage property and harm human health. For more information on how to safely segregate flammable liquids from other incompatible classes of dangerous goods, download our free dangerous goods segregation chart by clicking on the image below 👇.