If you’ve recently installed a brand new safety cabinet for your flammable and combustible liquids please read this blog. It contains important information for ensuring your workplace is fully compliant with Australian WHS Regulations, and the cabinet is maintained according to Australian Safety Standards.
REMEMBER: Flammable liquids cabinets are engineering controls that must be regularly reviewed and properly maintained so they remain fit for purpose, setup, and used correctly. This is a requirement of Sections 37-38 of Australian WHS Regulations.
What are administrative controls?
Administrative controls are the safe work methods and operating procedures that support other hazard control measures. They change the way work is done and include site rules, employee inductions, contractor registration, on-the-job training, housekeeping, personal hygiene, maintenance, supervision and emergency preparedness.
You need operating procedures to ensure the cabinet is loaded correctly, regular inspections and maintenance to keep the cabinet free from corrosion and damage, and strict segregation policies that prohibit other chemicals and dangerous goods (eg, organic peroxides, toxic and corrosive chemicals) from being place in the cabinet. Without administrative controls your flammable liquids cabinet is merely a piece of sheet steel with self-closing doors.
Key administrative controls
We recommend implementing the following administrative controls alongside your Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinet:
1. Written Procedures
- Loading the cabinet: never loading the cabinet past its approved capacity, stacking containers carefully so they don’t block the self-closing doors, never propping the doors open, no more than 2 x 60 litre drums in stacks, never using the spill compound as storage space.
- Segregation: clear policies for segregating incompatible substances (eg, flammables are incompatible with oxidisers and organic peroxides).
- Purchasing: keeping chemical quantities to the minimum possible, timing chemical deliveries so there is always someone to receive the order and put it away, ensuring chemical supply companies pack loads safely.
- Aggregate quantities: maximum allowable quantities within each 250 square metres of floor space.
- Site rules: no smoking or bringing ignition sources onsite, no eating or drinking in work areas, PPE to be worn while handling chemicals.
- Emergency procedures: what to do in the event of a fire, explosion, chemical spill, or dangerous chemical reaction — personal safety, contacting emergency services, evacuation and muster points.
- Inside the cabinet: ensuring only flammable or combustible liquids are stored inside the cabinets, keeping lids and seals on containers, wiping down chemical residue from containers before putting away.
- Exterior of the cabinet: putting chemical containers away immediately after use, not using the top of the cabinet as a shelf, not allowing refuse or combustible materials to build-up around the cabinet.
- Ignition sources: keeping hotwork and other ignition sources away from the cabinets, restrictions on the types of gadgets and electronics that are allowed in the area.
- Personal hygiene: not allowing food or drink near chemical storage areas, having hand-washing facilities for workers who handle chemicals,
- Regular inspections: checking the structural integrity of cabinets and ensuring they remain free of dents, chipping and corrosion. Check that self-closing doors close in sequence without jamming.
- Repairs and maintenance: replacing missing signage or damaged parts, repairing faulty exterior lighting.
- Cleaning schedule: replacing spill trays and bungs, cleaning up spilled chemicals, wiping chemical contaminants from cabinet walls and surfaces, disposing of out-of-date or contaminated substances.
- Register of Hazardous Chemicals: a master list of chemicals inside the cabinet as well as the current Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each substance should be within easy reach.
- Induction training for all site visitors, worker and contractors: hazard awareness, location of flammable liquids stores, site rules, restricted areas, prohibited items and substances (eg, gadgets, lighters, matches).
- Manual handling procedures: considerations when moving containers of chemicals, unpacking loads without damaging chemical containers, safe lifting and carrying, using drum dolly’s and trolleys, wearing PPE while manual handling, using forklifts and mechanical lifting aids.
- On-the-job training for workers in the chemical stores: hazard awareness, loading cabinets correctly, adjusting shelving, cleaning out the spill sump.
- Personal Protective Equipment: fitting and wearing PPE correctly, techniques for using it correctly, cleaning and maintenance, procedures for storage, repair and replacement.
- General supervision: ensuring staff and contractors are competent in their duties and providing remedial training and instruction if they don’t meet accepted standards.
- Job rotation: rotating workers to reduce long-term chemical exposure.
- Restricted access: ensuring the number of people accessing HAZCHEM work areas is kept to a minimum, at the same time ensuring that chemical handling staff and contractors don’t work alone.
- Contractors: escorting maintenance personnel (and other contractors) who may come into contact with flammable liquids around the job site.
NOTE: this list is by no means complete, but it’s certainly a great place to start. For chemical compliance purposes why not use this blog as a checklist and carry out an inspection in your chemical stores?
Take the next step in chemical safety management by downloading our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. Our eBook clearly explains how to carry out a risk assessment on your chemical stores, then choose an appropriate safety cabinet that suits the unique hazards and operational needs of the job site. Download and read it today by clicking on the image below: