Keeping your people and property safe is the ongoing responsibility of every organisation. So, if you’ve chosen to store your flammable liquids in a compliant safety cabinet, it’s a positive first step in achieving compliance. However, to make sure that your safety cabinet stays compliant, you need to develop an inspection checklist for your Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinets and storage areas.
Creating Your Checklist
To start developing your checklist, consider our detailed information below and create an inspection checklist document.
Your inspection checklist should have blank spaces for the following:
- Date and time of inspection
- Name and signature/initials of inspectors/auditors
- Checkbox or compliance indicator next to each item [YES - NO - N/A]
- Details of corrective actions
- Date the corrective action was implemented
- Signature/Initials of operator who implemented corrective action
This will allow you and your team to collate all relevant information into a well organised, up-to-date document that can be shared within your organisation.
Now, let’s explore some of the inspection criteria that you can apply to your organisation’s flammable liquids cabinets and storage areas.
Check your chemical containers to see if they comply with the following requirements:
- The chemical containers are approved for the storage of Class 3 Flammable liquids
- They have labels that are intact, legible and have not been altered or defaced in any way
- Portable chemical containers are properly labelled and bear the appropriate warning signs/hazard statements
- Containers have lids and are fully closed when not in use
- Containers are not leaking and have no visible signs of cracks, puncture marks, breaks, dents, or other damage
- Containers and drums are clean with no chemical residue or spillage on the top, cap seal, or running down the sides
- Empty flammable liquids containers have been disposed of properly and safely
Containers must have lids and need to be fully closed when not in use
Class 3 Flammable Liquids Cabinets
Inspect your flammable cabinets and check off the following points:
- Cabinets are set on solid ground and perfectly level
- Cabinet interior and exterior has no signs of rust, corrosion, dents, or impact damage (all four walls, roof, base and doors)
- Walls are intact and seams have no signs of deterioration or damage
- Cabinet has original shelving and componentry. Shelves are sturdy and fully support the containers stored on them
Containers and drums are completely enclosed inside the cabinet and not blocking the closing mechanisms
- Doors close automatically in sequence and are held shut automatically (without jamming)
- The lower spill compound is not being used as a storage area, and it’s clear of liquids and spilled chemicals
- Only Class 3 Flammable Liquids are stored inside the cabinet (eg, no other chemicals or liquids, tools, utensils, rags, materials)
- The cabinet is not loaded past the capacity marked on the front of the cabinet.
- Cabinet clearly displays the following signs and markings:
- Class 3 Dangerous Goods label — at least 250mm (nominal length)
- Warning placard with lettering at least 50mm high — ‘NO SMOKING, NO IGNITION SOURCES WITHIN 3m’
- Maximum capacity of the cabinet
- Name and address of manufacturer
- All warning signs and cabinet markings are fully visible when the cabinet doors are closed
Inspect your flammable cabinet to ensure that there’s no signs of deterioration or damage
Cabinets Over 250 Litres
If your flammable liquids cabinet is over 250 litres, check that the:
- Cabinet is no taller than 2 metres above floor level
If your cabinet is over 250 L, it must be no taller than 2m above floor level
Inspect your organisation’s storage areas to see if the following requirements are being met:
- Chemical storage area has appropriate warning signs and placards (eg, HAZCHEM)
- There is no evidence of smoking, hot work, or other restricted activities within 3 metres of the cabinet
- Ignition sources, incompatible chemicals, gas cylinders, electronic gadgets and heavy machinery are not located within 3-5 metres of the flammable liquids storage area
- First aid equipment, emergency showers, and eyewash equipment can be safely accessed within 10 seconds of the cabinet
- There is a clear path between the cabinet and the emergency shower and eyewash unit — there are no obstructions or barriers in the way
- Incompatible medical equipment (eg, defibrillators, O2) is not brought (or used) within 3-5 metres of the cabinet
- Register of Hazardous Chemicals is attached to the cabinet and contains the most recent Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical inside the cabinet
- There are no accumulations of waste, dust, tree leaves, pallets, cardboard cartons or other combustible materials near the cabinet
- Aggregate quantities are at least 10 metres apart and are not exceeded.
- Ground floor — maximum of 850 litres of flammable liquids per 250 square metres.
- Other floors — maximum of 250 litres of flammable liquids per 250 square metres.
- Lighting in the storage area is sufficient, fully functional, and there are no discharging sockets or switches.
- There is no maintenance or construction work being conducted near (or above) the flammable liquids cabinet.
- Cabinets are protected from impact from forklifts, vehicles, dropped tools and flying debris
- External contractors and maintenance workers from other departments have received an appropriate safety induction and are monitored (and properly supervised) while in the flammable liquids store
- Class B Fire Extinguishers and a chemical spill kit (with instructions) are on-hand
- There are no chemical containers lying around the storage area or sitting next to the cabinet
- Decanting and transferring of chemicals into portable containers is not being conducted in the storage area
Ventilation and Air Quality
Inspect your ventilation system and assess your workplace air quality with the following criteria:
- There are no indicators that the air surrounding flammable liquids cabinets is contaminated with flammable vapours (eg, strong smell around cabinet, visible indicators)
- There are no indicators that chemical concentration levels are above workplace exposure standards (eg, workers coughing or complaining of stinging eyes)
- Mechanical ventilation system is fully functional
Your Compliance Obligations
Just like all workplace hazard control measures, your safety cabinets need to be regularly inspected, reviewed and maintained so they can continue to meet your legal requirements.
These requirements can be found in WHS Regulations in Section 37 Maintenance of control measures and Section 38 Review of control measures.
Section 37 of the regulations explains the following in relation to the maintenance of workplace control measures – including flammable liquids cabinets:
37 Maintenance of control measures
A duty holder who implements a control measure to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety must ensure that the control measure is, and is maintained so that it remains, effective, including by ensuring that the control measure is and remains:
(a) fit for purpose; and
(b) suitable for the nature and duration of the work; and
(c) installed, set up and used correctly.
While Section 38 details the requirements when reviewing control measures in your organisation including:
38 Review of control measures
(1) A duty holder must review and as necessary revise control measures implemented under these Regulations so as to maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a work environment that is without risks to health or safety.
As WHS Regulations can be quite broad, your organisation may prefer to refer to the Australian Standards. The standard sets out all relevant guidelines, procedures and specifications that relate to compliant flammable liquids storage. This standard for this type of dangerous goods is AS 1940:2017 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids.
If you’d like some professional guidance, you can also get in touch with one of our Dangerous Goods Specialists. Our team can help your organisation reduce the risks involved with flammable liquids storage needs.
Steps To Take For a Compliant Safety Cabinet
It’s important to keep in mind that you need to regularly inspect, review and maintain your flammable liquids cabinets and safety cabinets. This will help you ensure that they’re 100% safe, effective and compliant.
Following our simple suggestions for developing an inspection checklist for your flammable liquids cabinet is an easy and practical way of reviewing and maintaining your workplace’s hazard controls.
If you’re interested in learning more about maintaining safety and compliance at your workplace, why not check out our FREE eBook? Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors offers expert advice on understanding your flammable liquids, assessing your compliance obligations and storing your flammable liquids safely. You can download our eBook and read it today by simply clicking on the image below.