I think most of us can agree that we’re dealing with a long, humid and extremely hot summer. And if you’re feeling the heat, chances are your aerosol cans are too. Aerosols can create dangerous situations when exposed to extreme temperatures and long periods of heat, which can harm people, property and the environment due to the risk of fire and explosion.

To help you keep your cool when battling hot conditions in your workplace, we’ve put together some simple aerosol safety tips, so you can ensure safe aerosol handling and storage. But first, let’s look at aerosols and explain why these commonly found cans can create such problems for unsuspecting staff members.

What are Aerosols?

Aerosol cans are non-refillable receptacles that meet the requirements of Section 6.2.4 of the ADG Code. Made of metal, glass or plastics, these cans contain a gas, compressed, liquefied or dissolved under pressure, with or without a liquid, paste or powder.

Aerosol cans are fitted with a device that allows for the rapid release of contents. This release can be solid or liquid particles in suspension – whether this is in a gas, foam, paste, powder, liquid or gaseous state.


Aerosols are used across a range of industries, but their hazards are somewhat misunderstood.

How Can Aerosols Explode?

Aerosol cans can explode when the pressure inside the can becomes too high, leading to a rupture of the canister.

Aerosol cans typically contain a propellant, such as compressed gas or a liquefied gas, along with the product itself. Due to the nature of the can, the explosion can not only create harm through ignition and the release of dangerous chemicals – the cannister may become a projectile, causing harm to those around it.

Here are some common reasons why aerosol cans may explode:

  • Overheating: Exposure to high temperatures can cause the pressure inside the can to increase. If the can is exposed to direct sunlight, placed near a heat source, or stored in a hot environment, the temperature rise can lead to a significant increase in pressure. This heightened pressure may eventually exceed the can's structural integrity, causing it to rupture or explode.
  • Damage or Corrosion: Physical damage or corrosion to the can's structure can weaken it, making it more susceptible to rupturing. For example, a dent or a scratch on the can may compromise its integrity, and if the pressure inside becomes too high, it can result in an explosion.
  • Freezing: In some cases, extremely low temperatures can cause the propellant inside the can to contract and reduce pressure. However, if the can is then exposed to higher temperatures, the propellant can rapidly expand, increasing internal pressure and potentially causing an explosion.
  • Manufacturing Defects: Rarely, defects in the manufacturing process, such as faulty seals or inadequate welding, can result in a weakened can structure. This can make the can more susceptible to rupturing, especially if the pressure inside becomes excessive.

IMPORTANT: It's essential for health and safety to ensure that staff handle aerosol cans with care. Develop procedures and training to make sure staff store aerosols properly and follow all safety instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Avoid Fire and Explosion with Aerosol Safety

There are many do’s and don’ts relating to aerosol storage and handling in the workplace.

We recommend:

  • Following all manufacturer’s instructions
  • Familiarising staff with aerosol safety data sheets
  • Developing aerosol safety procedures and training
  • Using compliant aerosol storage
  • Creating a protected and secure storage environment
  • Training staff in safe storage and handling specific for products onsite

Most aerosol cans use naturally occurring flammable hydrocarbons as propellants, however some use compressed gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Always check the safety data sheets of each aerosol can and ensure the safety data sheets are kept in a waterproof document holder close to the aerosol cage.

IMPORTANT: Don’t be fooled thinking your aerosols are harmless. These common cans are recognised asl Class 2 Dangerous Goods and must be identified and controlled to ensure health and safety at your workplace.

Tips for Aerosol Handling

Handling aerosols requires care to ensure safety and prevent potential hazards. Here are some things you should not do with aerosols:

  • DON’T puncture or incinerate aerosol cans: Puncturing or incinerating aerosol cans can lead to their explosion. The contents, including propellants, may be flammable or under pressure, posing risks of fire, injury, or damage.
  • NEVER use near sparks or open flames: Avoid using aerosols near sources of ignition, sparks, or open flames. Some aerosols contain flammable substances, and using them in close proximity to fire sources can result in fires or explosions.
  • PROHIBIT smoking while using aerosols: Smoking near aerosol products is a fire hazard, especially if the aerosol contains flammable ingredients. It's advisable to refrain from smoking during and immediately after using aerosol products.
  • DON’T dispose of full aerosol cans: Don’t dispose of aerosol cans in regular trash if they still contain product or propellant. Follow local regulations for aerosol disposal, which may involve recycling facilities or designated waste disposal sites.

Storemasta Aerosol Cage - GF02

Aerosol handling and storage can prevent accidents in the workplace.

Tips for Aerosol Storage

Protection, ventilation, isolation and segregation are extremely important for safe aerosol storage.

We recommend the following tips for aerosol storage in the workplace:

  • Avoid exposure to heat or flame: Do not expose aerosol cans to direct heat sources, open flames, or high temperatures. Elevated temperatures can increase pressure inside the can, potentially causing it to rupture or explode.
  • Do not store aerosols in hot environments: Store aerosol cans in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. High temperatures can affect the pressure inside the can and may lead to issues such as leaks or explosions.
  • Always use a compliant aerosol cage: When storing aerosols, you need specific engineering controls that can reduce the risk of ignition, accidental gas release and projectiles. Compliant aerosol cages, like the Storemasta range, offer the necessary controls to reduce risk.
  • Keep aerosol cages outdoors: The outdoor storage of aerosols (in compliant cages) is a safer option than indoor storage, as any gases that may be dispersed can be released instead of accumulating indoors. This natural ventilation decreases the risk of human harm and fire or explosion.
  • Ensure aerosols are protected from direct sunlight: Direct sunlight and heat can increase your risk, so make sure your cages are located in a protected position, away from heat, other dangerous goods, naked flames, ignition sources and direct sunlight. If you’re keeping them in a yard with no protection, consider installing an awning to offer some cover from the sun.
  • Isolate from incompatible substances: Just like any dangerous goods in the workplace, make sure that you understand the chemical segregation rules for your stored substances. Class 2 gases are incompatible with a range of substances, so refer to your safety data sheets as well as the DG segregation guidelines

REMEMBER: Follow the manufacturer's instructions and warnings on aerosol products to ensure safe usage and handling. If there are specific safety guidelines provided, it's essential to adhere to them to minimise the risks associated with aerosols.

Beating the Heat with Aerosol Hazards

When using aerosols, remember that your actions can impact how safe or dangerous these little cans are. If an aerosol can is damaged, dented, or shows signs of leakage, it should be handled cautiously or disposed of according to local regulations. Avoid exposing aerosol cans to extreme temperatures, ignition sources, physical damage, or other conditions that could compromise the integrity of the aerosol can. For more information on the safe storage and handling of aerosols, you can access our free eBook which is full of expert advice and practical storage tips. Get your copy now to find out more.

New call-to-action

Like what you’re reading?

Need Personalized Advice?

From product enquiries to compliance advice, we're here to help you create a safer workplace.