Class 3 dangerous goods storage requirements for indoors and outdoors

Aug 28, 2018 Posted by Walter Ingles

The Australian Dangerous Goods Code classifies class 3 dangerous goods as “flammable liquids”. Flammable liquids are liquids that will ignite in the presence of an ignition source at temperatures below 60 °C. Because of their volatility, flammable liquids must be stored in a safe and compliant manner. Safe storage can be achieved by adhering to the requirements outlined in the Australian Standards. The Standard that outlines the requirements for the storage and handling of flammable liquids is AS1940. This standard outlines different requirements for the indoor storage and outdoor storage of flammable liquids. As there are different requirements for the indoor and outdoor storage of flammable liquids, it is important that you are familiar with the different requirements to ensure that you comply with the relevant dangerous goods standards and regulations. Below we will outline the different requirements for the indoor and outdoor storage of flammable liquids.

Indoor storage of flammable liquids

As flammable liquids pose significant risks upon people and property in the workplace, it is very important to limit the quantity of flammable liquids stored indoors. In fact section 4.9 of AS1940 states that the maximum capacity of indoor flammable liquids storage cabinets shall not exceed 850L. Section 4.9 of AS1940 also states that an indoor building should have no more than one 850L cabinet per 250m2 of floor space. If the flammable cabinets are located on a floor other than the ground floor, the aggregate capacity of the flammable liquids storage cabinets should not be greater than 250L per 250 m2 of floor space.

If you need to store more than 850L of flammable liquids per 250 m2 of floor space, you will have to invest in a custom built fire rated flammable liquids storage facility.

Compliant flammable liquids storage cabinet

When flammable liquids are stored indoors, it is very important that you use a facility that is safe and compliant with the Australian dangerous goods regulations. The Australian Standard AS1940 is the standard that outlines the requirements for the storage and handling of flammable liquids. The requirements outlined in this standard are accepted as an important part of meeting the legislative requirements for the storage and handling of flammable liquids. When flammable liquids are stored indoors, it is very important to ensure that they are kept in a flammable cabinet that has been designed and constructed in full conformance to AS1940. Section 4.9.2 of AS1940 outlines the requirements for the construction of flammable liquids storage cabinets. The main requirements for the construction of flammable liquids storage cabinets include:

  • The materials that are critical to the structural integrity of the cabinet must not melt at temperatures below 850 °C.
  • Where the doors are equipped with a device to hold them open when necessary, they must automatically release at temperatures exceeding 850 °C.
  • Cabinet doors must be self-closing close-fitting and automatically held shut by catches at two or more points.
  • The cabinet must be designed so that all leakages inside the cabinet are directed into the spill containment sump in the bottom of the cabinet.
  • All shelves inside the cabinet must be perforated to allow for free air movement within the cabinet.
  • The spill containment sump in the base of the cabinet must be at least 150mm deep and shall be designed to prevent packages from being stored inside it.
  • All gaps around the doors shall be sealed to prevent the spread of flames or heat radiation.
  • The walls, floor, doors and roof of the cabinet must be a dual skinned sheet metal construction with a space of at least 40 mm between the walls.  

Operational requirements for indoor flammable liquids storage

Storing flammable liquids in an indoor safety cabinet is an excellent start to meeting legislative compliance, however there are other operational requirements for meeting full compliance. These requirements include:

  • Flammable liquids storage cabinets must be separated from all ignition sources by at least 3 metres.
  • No ignition sources must be placed inside the cabinet.
  • Drums with a capacity greater than 60L must not be stacked more than 2 high within the cabinet.
  • Flammable liquids storage cabinets must be marked with a sign “No Smoking No Ignition Sources Within 3m” and a class 3 dangerous goods label with sides at least 250 mm long.
  • All other dangerous substances that are incompatible with flammable liquids must not be stored within cabinet.

If you are storing flammable liquids indoors, it it very important that you keep them in a flammable cabinet that has been constructed in full conformance to AS1940 and you follow the other operational safety requirements to meet full legislative compliance. If you have larger quantities of flammable liquids in your workplace, they must be stored outdoors.

Outdoor storage of flammable liquids

If your organisation uses larger quantities of flammable liquids, it is best to store them in the outdoors. Outdoor storage of flammable liquids will reduce the risk of property damage and harm to people in the event of a fire. The quantity of flammable liquids that can be stored outdoors can be anywhere from 30L to quantities exceeding 32,000L. The safest and most efficient method for storing flammable liquids in the outdoors is to use a flammable liquids storage container that has been designed and manufactured in full conformance to AS1940. The design requirements for a compliant flammable liquids storage container is outlined below.

Compliant flammable liquids storage containers

Section 4.1 - 4.8 of AS1940 outlines the design and construction requirements for flammable liquids storage containers. Outdoor flammable liquids storage containers have different requirements from indoor flammable liquids storage cabinets. Two features that are not required for outdoor flammable liquids storage cabinets include; self-closing self-latching doors and dual-skinned construction. The mandatory requirements for compliant chemical storage containers are outlined below:

Spillage containment

To protect the people, property and the environment of the workplace, flammable liquids storage containers must have the provision to contain any spills that may occur within in the store. To achieve this, all flammable liquids storage containers must have a spill containment sump in the lower part of the container. The required spill containment capacity of flammable liquids storage containers depends on the quantity of flammable liquids being stored within the container. These capacities are outlined below:

Facilities storing less than 10,000L

Spill containment capacity = 100% of the largest package within the store + 25% of the aggregate capacity of the store.

Facilities storing between 10,000L - 100,000L

Spill containment capacity = 100% of the largest package within the store + 25% of the aggregate capacity of the store + 10% of storage capacity between 10,000L and 100,000L.

Facilities storing more than 100,000L

Spill containment capacity = 100% or the largest package within the store + 25% of the aggregate capacity of the store + 10% of storage capacity between 10,000L and 100,000L + 5% of the storage capacity exceeding 100,000L

Ventilation

Flammable liquids give off a lot of flammable vapours. If these flammable vapours came into contact with an ignition source, it would cause a severe fire that would harm people and property. To reduce the risk of fire, flammable liquids storage containers must be ventilated to reduce the concentration of flammable vapours within the store. Because of the size of outdoor flammable liquids storage containers, a natural ventilation system is the most practical way to ventilate a flammable liquids storage container. AS1940 states that a natural ventilation system on a flammable liquids store can be achieved by having two walls of fixed louvers open to the air.

Operational requirements for flammable liquids storage containers

To reach full compliance, there are other operational requirements that must be followed when flammable liquids storage containers are installed in your workplace. These operation requirements include:

  • All flammable liquids storage containers must be marked with a class 3 dangerous goods label that has sides of at least 250mm.
  • Flammable liquids storage containers must also have a sign that states “No Smoking No Ignition Sources within 3m”
  • All flammable liquids storage facilities must have a eye wash station within 10 metres but no nearer than 2 metres.
  • If the flammable liquids storage container has a capacity greater than 2000L,  a safety shower must be located within 10 metres but not nearer than 2 metres.

Next Steps

Indoor storage and outdoor storage of flammable liquids pose different levels of risk upon the people and property of the workplace. To adequately protect the people and property of your workplace, it is very important that you are familiar with the different requirements for indoor and outdoor storage. Full compliance for flammable liquids storage can be achieved by adhering to the requirements outlined above. If you would like more information on how to reduce the risks associated with flammable liquids, download our FREE eBook by clicking on the image below.

How to reduce the risk of flammable liquids in the workplace

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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