Conducting a post-installation check on your flammable liquids cabinet 

Aug 4, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

You’ve just purchased a shiny new cabinet for your Class 3 Flammable Liquids but is it installed correctly? Is it in the right place? Is it being used correctly? If the answer is no, there is a possibility that your new cabinet won’t be effectively minimising the risk associated with your flammable liquids. This blog highlights the importance of conducting a post-installation check on your safety cabinets — and provides a list of actions for you to include in your own checklist. 

 

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. We’ll look at both separately. 

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. But the guy or girl in maintenance who was given the task of unloading it, may not know that the cabinet can’t be installed within 3 metres of an ignition source. They may not even know (apart from a naked flame) what an ignition source is. 

2. Legislation

Safety cabinets are hazard control measures, and it is a requirement of Section 37 of the WHS Regulations that 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) is a requirement under WHS legislation. 

How to carry out the installation check 

Your installation check should address all the essential requirements of Australian Standard AS1940:2017 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. Items to include are: 

Usage 

First check if the cabinet is being used properly and isn’t loaded past it’s 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. 

 

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. The cabinet must not be: 

  • Within 3 metres of an ignition source (egpowerpoints, 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. 

 

Immediate vicinity 

You should also check the equipment, activities and 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.  

 

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 ‘fumey’ smell.  

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

 

Integrity 

Check the integrity of the cabinet and that nothing was damaged during installation. Make sure 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. 

 

What to do if the cabinet is installed incorrectly 

If the cabinet is installed incorrectly you may need to undertake one or all of the following corrective actions: 

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

Next steps

Is your flammable liquids cabinet installed incorrectly? Maybe you just need a reliable guide to selecting a new cabinet? Why not download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. We detail the essential features of a compliant Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinet as well as the specific requirements for installing it correctly. Download and read our definitive guide today by clicking on the image below:

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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