As Dangerous Goods Specialists, it’s fair to say that we’ve seen a lot of workplaces. But we’ve also witnessed some worrying practices when it comes to the storage and handling of dangerous goods. Over the decades, we’ve helped countless customers achieve full compliance for their workplace, but one of the most common risks we see is the incorrect storage of Class 3 Flammable Liquids.
While you should always store your flammable liquids in a dedicated safety cabinet that’s manufactured to Australia Safety Standards, you WON’T reduce your compliance risk if it’s used or installed in the wrong way.
So, to help you maintain a safe and compliant workplace, we’ve put together the 5 high risk uses of flammable liquids cabinets that we (unfortunately) see all the time.
Read on to find out what you shouldn’t be doing with your flammable cabinets.
1. Storing Other Classes Of Dangerous Goods Inside The Cabinet
Class 3 Flammable Liquids are the only substances that should be stored inside a flammable liquids cabinet.
Let’s say that again in a different way: don’t put acids, bases, flammable solids, oxidisers, toxic substances, organic peroxides or anything that is not a Class 3 Flammable Liquid inside your flammable liquid storage cabinet.
Don’t place anything apart from Class 3 Flammable Liquids in your cabinet
Flammable cabinets are purpose built using construction materials and componentry compatible with Class 3 Flammable Liquids.
Putting other classes of Dangerous Goods inside the cabinet can:
- Put you in violation of Australian Safety Standards and the ADG Code
- Create a high risk of fire, explosion or dangerous chemical reaction inside the cabinet
- Negate the labelling and signage on the outside of the cabinet and put you in direct violation of the WHS Regulations
WHAT NOT TO DO #1: Don’t store anything but Class 3 Flammable Liquids in your flammable liquids cabinet.
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2. Covering Or Removing The Signs And Markings
To create a safe, compliant and aware workplace, you must display specific markings and signs on your flammable cabinet.
Make sure that your signs are always visible, even when the cabinet is closed.
The required flammable liquids cabinet markings (in summary) are:
- Storage capacity
- Details of manufacturer and importer
Not displaying correct safety signs, markings and placards can:
- Create an unsafe workplace where employees, contractors and site visitors are not fully aware of the hazards when entering the area
- Put you in direct violation of the WHS Regulations
- Render your cabinet non-compliant with the ADG Code and Australian Safety Standards
Place your cabinet signage in the right spot and ensure it’s fully visible.
WHAT NOT TO DO #2: Don’t forget to maintain and/or replace your flammable cabinet safety signage and ensure that’s it’s fully visible whenever the cabinet door is closed. You can nominate a team member to regularly inspect the cabinet to ensure that your signage is fully compliant.
3. Keeping Ignition Sources Inside The Cabinet
It’s a requirement of AS 1940:2017 –The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids that ignition sources are never be placed inside the cabinet. In fact, flammable liquids must be separated from ignition sources by at least 3 metres.
Anything that can generate heat, sparks, flames or static electricity can ignite Class 3 Flammable Liquids. Ignition sources can include a broad range of commonly found workplace items including matches, lighters, mobile phones, cordless keys, remote controls, lights, thermostats, electric switches, tools, battery powered tools and radios.
Flammable liquids can easily ignite near a workplace ignition source
This is probably an obvious thing to say, but we’re going to repeat it anyway. Placing ignition sources inside the cabinet can:
- Cause a fire or explosion
- Put you in violation of Australian Safety Standards
- Create an unacceptable hazard and WHS compliance risk
WHAT NOT TO DO #3: Don’t store matches, lighters, electronics or other ignition sources inside the cabinet as this poses a serious risk of fire or explosion. Never place a flammable liquids cabinet less than 3 metres from an ignition source in your workplace.
4. Storing Products Inside The Spill Compound
It sounds pretty simple, right? Storing products inside the spill compound of a flammable liquids cabinet is a dangerous move which creates a non-compliant situation for your workplace. There’s nowhere for the spills to go and it overloads the capacity of your cabinet.
However, you’d be surprised how many times we see this hazard when staff are attempting to store flammable liquids.
Flammable cabinets must have a liquid tight spill sump in the lower compound, as part of the secondary containment measures that are required by law. The purpose of this spill sump is to catch leaks from damaged or broken chemical containers.
The spill sump must be at least 150mm deep, and if the cabinet capacity is greater than 250 litres, it must be capable of holding at least 25% of the total capacity of the cabinet, OR the total volume of the largest chemical container stored in the cabinet.
Storing chemicals (or anything at all!) in the spill sump is in direct violation of Australian Safety Standards and may:
- Compromise the correct spill containment capacity
- Overload the cabinet past its approved capacity
- Bring vapour concentration levels higher than workplace exposure standards
WHAT NOT TO DO #4: Don’t store anything in the lower spill compound. You need to also clear the spill compound of chemical leaks and spills at least once a week.
5. Leaving Spilled Liquids In The Bund
The spill bund on your cabinet is designed to be a short-term spill containment solution. It’s not designed for long-term leaks and spills, nor is it capable of holding the entire liquid contents of your cabinet.
Leaving spilled liquids in the compound can:
- Increase or intensify vapours and fumes, and put you in breach of workplace exposure standards
- Increase the risk of fire and explosion within the cabinet
- Compromise the liquid-tight rating of the cabinet if the spill compound overflows
- Damage the cabinet (over the long-term)
WHAT NOT TO DO #5: Don’t neglect your spill bund by not cleaning it out. You should organise regular inspections of your flammable liquids cabinet, clearing the spill containment bund as soon as leaks or spills are detected.
Does Any Of This Sound Familiar?
Don’t make the same mistakes at YOUR workplace! If any of the 5 high risk uses of flammable liquids cabinets sound familiar, we can help you turn your hazard into a safe and compliant situation. You can find out how Class 3 Flammable Liquids should be stored at your job site by downloading our FREE eBook. Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors has all the info you need to confidently choose, install and maintain a compliant indoor flammable liquids cabinet. Download our eBook and read it today by simply clicking on the image below.