Have You Conducted a Post-Installation Check on Your Flammable Liquids Cabinet?

Originally published July 29, 2019 07:09:49 AM

So, you’ve just bought a new cabinet to store your Class 3 Flammable Liquids? That’s good to hear! But before you get started on the next task at hand, have a think about the actual installation of the cabinet. There’s more to installing flammable liquids cabinets than just taking the delivery and placing it in your workplace. In fact, if you want to effectively minimise risk and create a compliant worksite, there’s a few simple post-installation checks that you need to organise once your cabinet has arrived. Conducting a post-installation check on your safety cabinets can be a quick and pain-free task if you know the correct actions to take.  

Keep reading our blog to find out more about the post-installation checks that are required for your new flammable liquids cabinet.  

Why You Need a Post-Installation Check 

There are two key reasons you need to check the installation of a safety cabinet: logistics, and legislation.  

Let’s have a look at these key reasons in a little more detail. 

1. Logistics

Purchasing a flammable liquids cabinet is usually a three-step process that involves a risk assessment, the actual purchase of the cabinet and the installation. Very often these three functions are carried out by different people.

What this means is the person who carried out the risk assessment (and ordered the cabinet) may have a full understanding of the specifications of a compliant safety cabinet. However, the staff member who was given the task of unloading the cabinet may not know what is required when finding a place for the flammable cabinet. For example, have they been informed that the cabinet can’t be installed within 3 metres of an ignition source? Are they even aware of all the different types of ignition sources that may be located in your workplace?

GHS02 Flammable (Flames) (2)Flammable cabinets must be located away from any ignition sources

This lack of awareness by staff handling the cabinet installation can undermine the whole reason you’re buying a cabinet in the first place. If a mistake happens during the installation process, it can open the door for potential workplace hazards to occur. Therefore, having a clear post-installation check list in place can put everyone on the same page — and make the compliant installation of the safety cabinet a priority for your team.

2. Legislation

Safety cabinets are one of the hazard control measures in a workplace. And, as a requirement of Section 37 of the WHS Regulations, any hazard control measure must be: 

  • Installed and setup correctly 
  • Being used correctly 
  • Suitable for the purpose, nature and duration of the work
In short, a post-installation check of your flammable liquids cabinet (or any safety cabinet for that matter) is a requirement under WHS legislation. And that means your workplace has a legal obligation to ensure your flammable liquids cabinet is installed, setup and used in the correct way. 

How to Conduct a Post-Installation Check 

Addressing all the essential requirements of Australian Standard AS1940:2017 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids, your cabinet installation checklist needs to include a range of factors including its usage, location, the immediate workplace vicinity, cabinet ventilation and the integrity of the product. 

Let’s go into each of these factors in more depth: 

Usage 

The first step in an installation check is to find out if the flammable liquids cabinet is being properly used — and it’s loaded past its approved capacity.   

You should verify that: 

  • Only Class 3 Flammable Liquids are in the cabinet 

  • No chemicals or other items in the lower compound (ie, spill containment sump) 

  • No ignition sources inside the cabinet

 

Flammable

Check that your cabinet is being used in the correct manner

Location 

To remain safe and compliant a flammable liquids cabinet must be in the correct location and be within easy reach of safety showers and eyewash stations.  

AS1940:2017 outlines specific points regarding the location of the cabinet: 

4.9 STORAGE IN STORAGE CABINETS 

4.9.6 Cabinet location  

The following requirements apply to the location of cabinets for flammable and combustible liquids:

(a) Cabinets shall be located so that they do not impede escape in an emergency.  

(b) Cabinets having a capacity greater than 250 L shall not be installed in residential or accommodation buildings, commercial buildings, hospitals, aged care buildings or school buildings.

(c) Cabinets having a capacity greater than 250 L shall only be installed on floors that have direct access from street or ground level.  

(d) Cabinets having a capacity greater than 250 L shall not be placed nearer than 3 m to any wall that is common with another room, unless that wall is constructed of concrete or masonry to ceiling height or 3 m above the top of the cabinet (whichever is less) and 3 m to either side of the cabinet.

(e) The aggregate capacity of cabinets shall not be greater than— (i) 850 L per 250 m2 on a ground floor area; or (ii) 250 L per 250 m2 on other floors.

(f) Each aggregate quantity given in Item (e) shall be separated by at least 10 m.  

(g) A storage cabinet may be used for outdoor storage, provided that adequate protection against weather, corrosion and traffic damage is provided. 

Therefore, the cabinet must not be: 

  • Within 3 metres of an ignition source (eg, powerpoints, hot work, machinery or operations that generate sparks) 
  • Within 10 metres of another aggregate quantity** of flammable liquids 
  • Within 3-5 metres of other Dangerous Goods (eg, compressed gases, oxidisers, corrosives) 
  • Standing taller than 2 metres from floor level 
  • Blocking an emergency exit 
  • Outside 
  • Anywhere it could be impacted by traffic, flying or falling objects (eg, under a mezzanine floor with construction work being carried out overhead)
For cabinets with a capacity of more than 250 litres 
  • Against a common wall 
  • Installed in a hospital, aged care residence, school, accommodation or public building. 
  • Higher than the ground floor (unless the floor has direct street access) 
  • AGGREGATE QUANTITIES**
    • Ground floor — 850 litres per 250 square metres. 
    • Other floors — 250 litres per 250 square metres. 

how to store flammable liquids.2

Is your flammable liquids cabinet in the right location?

Immediate Vicinity 

As part of your safety cabinet post-installation check, you should also consider the equipment, activities and the state of housekeeping in the immediate vicinity of the cabinet.  

Things to look for include: 

  • Combustible items and refuse being stored (or discarded) close to the cabinet 
  • Workers bringing ignition sources into the area (eg, personal electronics) 
  • Maintenance and hot work that generates sparks or flames being carried out near the cabinet (eg, welding, soldering, grinding) 
  • Large or bulky items placed in front of the cabinet and the warning signage is no longer visible when the cabinet doors are closed 

All of these activities have the potential to spark a hazard with your flammable liquids cabinet and must be avoided to reach full compliance. 

Ventilation 

Flammable vapours and chemical fumes must not be able to escape into any room. Make sure the cabinet is not overloaded (this can increase the chemical concentration levels) and check there is no noticeable ‘fumy’ smell.  

AS1940:2017 details the requirements for ventilation of flammable cabinets: 

4.9 STORAGE IN STORAGE CABINETS 

4.9.5 Ventilation provisions  

Where ventilation is installed, it shall be designed so that vapours are prevented from escaping into any room. Any ventilation exhaust shall be to the outside atmosphere and in a location which allows the safe dispersal of vapours and is away from any ignition sources (see Clause 4.5). 

REMEMBER: not all chemicals have an odour, and fumes may not be visible. 

Integrity 

The final step in your post-installation checklist is to inspect the integrity of the cabinet and make sure that nothing was damaged during the installation process.   

Make sure you inspect the cabinet to ensure that: 

  • The cabinet is installed on a level surface 
  • Doors open and close without interference — and close automatically (in sequence) every time 
  • Walls, doors, shelving and Powdercoat finish are all structurally intact 

STOREMASTA Blog Image - Do flammable cabinets need to be ventedThe integrity of your cabinet should be checked after it’s been installed

What to Do with an Incorrectly Installed Cabinet 

The purpose of a post-installation check on your cabinet is to determine if it has been installed correctly. So, don’t panic if you reach the end of your check and find out that if it’s not!  

There are a range of corrective actions that you can immediately take if you determine that your cabinet is installed in the incorrect way. 

These actions may include:  

  • Relocating the cabinet to a suitable location 
  • Carrying out a full training session with your workers and supervisors 
  • Including chemical safety (and correct usage of flammable liquids cabinets) in job descriptions and work responsibilities 
  • Ordering additional units if cabinets are being overloaded 
  • Considering an outdoor store for larger quantities of flammable liquids 
  • Carrying out a risk assessment on your flammable liquids 

Training Staff and Contractors in Flammable Liquids Safety Staff should attend a full training session so they know how to manage the cabinet safely

Achieve Full Compliance with Your Cabinet 

Are you confident that your flammable liquids cabinets are installed in the correct way? Or is it time for you to replace your cabinets or select a brand new one? If you’re interested in some expert advice on flammable cabinets, why not download our FREE eBook?  

Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors details the key features of a compliant Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinet, as well as explaining the specific requirements for correct installation. Click on the image below to access our helpful eBook today.   

Essential Considerations when Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors download Free eBook
Walter Ingles

Walter Ingles Compliance Specialist

Walter is STOREMASTA’s Dangerous Goods Storage Specialist. He helps organisations reduce risk and improve efficiencies in the storage and management of dangerous goods and hazardous chemicals.

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