4 Reasons to do a risk assessment before purchasing a flammable liquids cabinet 

Oct 28, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

A flammable liquids cabinet should never be an off-the-shelf purchase and we always recommend carrying out a risk assessment during the selection process. It’s important to remember that chemical safety cabinets are risk control measures and should only be put in place to address a specific risk or hazard. In this blog we’ll be outlining four essential considerations when purchasing a flammable liquids cabinet (or outdoor store), and the reasons a risk assessment is critical to chemical storage safety and compliance — as well as your budget. 

1. Quantity

Your first consideration is to identify all the flammable liquids you hold onsite and calculate the quantities in each storage and handling area. Chemical quantities will affect the size and type of storage facility you choose (indoor cabinet, outdoor store etc). 

There are requirements under AS1940:2017 –- The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids for: 

  • Single cabinets — no more than 850 litres can be placed in any single cabinet. Cabinets larger than 250 litres must be made of heavy-duty materials.  
  • Minor storage — there are different storage and placarding requirements for smaller quantities of flammable liquids (also known as Minor Storage).  
  • Aggregate quantities — flammable liquids cabinets can be grouped into aggregate quantities of not more than 850 litres (ground floor) and 250 litres (other levels). Aggregate quantities apply to every 250 square metres of workspace and must be kept at least 10 metres apart. 

 Take the time to assess the overall quantities of your flammable liquids because you don’t want to purchase and install a cabinet only to find it isn’t suited to the chemical quantities or container sizes. 

 REMEMBER: STOREMASTA manufacture indoor flammable liquids cabinets in more than 14 different sizes. Checkout the range on our website using our helpful search tool — you can browse by drum and container size.  

 

2. Location

Next, evaluate the location of each chemical storage area and its suitability. The Standard has specific requirements about where flammable liquids cabinets and outdoor stores can be located. This is especially important if your workplace is a public building eg, accommodation house, school, hospital, aged care facility.  

 Indoor flammable liquids cabinets must NEVER be installed: 

  • Within 3 metres of an ignition source (eg, consider location of machinery and electrical sockets). 
  • Within 10 metres of another aggregate quantity (eg, consider the location of other cabinets). 
  • In a location that blocks or impedes traffic through an emergency exit of muster station (eg, consider the natural flow of pedestrian traffic on the site). 

And if the cabinet is greater than 250 litres 

  • Against a common wall. 
  • In a public building eg, accommodation house, school, hospital, aged care facility.  
  • Above ground level (unless there is direct access to the street). 
  • In a position that makes the roof of the cabinet more than 2 metres from the floor. 

Take the time to assess the proposed location of your chemical stores or cabinets because you don’t want to spend money on an installation only to discover it doesn’t meet Australian Safety Standards. 

REMEMBER: Indoor flammable liquids cabinets are not suited to the outdoor environment and STOREMASTA’s range of outdoor flammable liquids stores has more than 40 different sizes — from 80 litre mini-stores to large stores that can house up to 32 IBCs or pallets. 

 

3. Compatibility

Your risk assessment should also identify and assess any chemical compatibility issues — ie, could the flammable liquids react dangerously with another chemical, material, or substance?  

This process will require you to: 

  • Read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and other guidelines from the chemical manufacturer. (Eg, Refer to Section 7: Handling and storage and Section 10: stability and reactivity). 
  • Identify incompatible substances. (Eg, Not to be stored with oxidising agents (Class 5.1). 
  • Determine the types of chemical reactions that are possible (Eg, Avoid contamination with oxidising agents i.e. nitrates, oxidising acids, chlorine bleaches and pool chlorine as ignition may result).
  • Identify where these incompatible substances are located in proximity to your flammable liquids (Eg, sacks of fertiliser stored on pallets, medical grade O2 at the first aid station). 

Take the time to assess compatibility hazards because you will need storage equipment that safely isolates the incompatible chemicals and substances from each other. 

 

4. Exposure

Finally your risk assessment should consider the exposure hazards. This will determine the level of spill protection and ventilation you require, as well as if there is a need for emergency showers and eyewash units. 

Consider: 

  • How a chemical leak or spill could impact the workplace (fires), workers (chemical burns, respiratory illness), and the environment (contamination of groundwater, death of aquatic life). How will you meet your requirement under Section 357 of Australian WHS Regulations to prevent and manage chemical spills? 
  • Ventilation hazards that may put the job site in breach of workplace exposure standards. You may need to attach a mechanical ventilation system to your cabinet or store. 
  • Health hazards associated with the flammables and the types of injuries they could cause if a worker was splashed over the skin or eyes. You may need to install a plumbed emergency shower and eyewash station within a few metres of the chemical store or cabinet. 

 REMEMBER: Indoor flammable liquids cabinets offer a liquid tight spill containment sump, but to be effective, must be supported by solid housekeeping practices and safe work procedures.  

 

Next steps 

For more information about carrying out a risk assessment on your flammable liquid’s stores, why not download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. We walk you through the STOREMASTA 4-step risk management methodology and explain how to use it when selecting indoor flammable liquids cabinets that meet the requirements of AS1940:2017 –- The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids.  

Essential Considerations when Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors download Free eBook

Walter Ingles

Walter Ingles Compliance Specialist

Walter is STOREMASTA’s Dangerous Goods Adviser. He loves helping businesses reduce the risk that Dangerous Goods pose upon their employees, property and the environment through safe and compliant dangerous goods storage solutions.

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