Do flammable cabinets need to be self-closing?

Aug 27, 2018 Posted by Walter Ingles

Flammable liquids storage cabinets are cabinets that have been specially designed and constructed for the indoor storage of Class 3 Flammable Liquids. Flammable liquids are liquids that have a flashpoint below 60 °C.

The purpose of a flammable storage cabinet is to:

  • Protect the flammable liquids inside the cabinet from damage.
  • Provide segregation between incompatible chemicals.
  • Contain spills.
  • Protect the flammable liquids inside the cabinet from immediately igniting in the event of a fire. This allows persons to escape or use firefighting equipment.

To ensure that flammable liquids storage cabinets achieve these specific objectives, Standards Australia developed a standard that outlined the design and construction requirements for flammable liquids storage cabinets. This standard is called AS 1940-2017 - The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. Section 4.9.2 of this standard states:

The cabinet doors shall be self-closing, close-fitting and held shut automatically by catches at two or more points”

Therefore the doors on flammable liquids storage cabinets must be self-closing! If you are storing flammable liquids in a dangerous goods storage cabinet that doesn’t have self-closing and self-latching doors, there is a risk that you will be financially liable due to non compliance.

How do self-closing doors make flammable storage cabinets safe?

Self-closing doors are doors that automatically shut once the doors of the cabinet have been released. This feature allows the cabinet to achieve the objectives outlined above. When the doors of flammable liquids storage cabinets are open, it hinders them from achieving their performance objectives. The way that self-closing doors help flammable liquids storage cabinets achieve their intended objectives is outlined below.

Protect contents from damage and contamination

In the workplace, there are many things that could cause packages of flammable liquids to become contaminated or damaged. If the fork tines of a forklift accidently hit a drum of flammable liquids, they can easily burst the package and the flammable liquids would leak into the workplace. Some workplace activities can produce a lot of dust. If this dust mixes with the flammable liquids, it will become contaminated and no longer usable. If the doors of a flammable liquids storage cabinet don’t shut, the cabinet won’t fully protect the contents from becoming damaged or contaminated. With self-closing doors, the doors of the cabinet will always be shut when packages are not being retrieved from the cabinet. This removes the risk of the packages becoming contaminated and damaged.  

Providing segregation from incompatible substances

There are a number of other dangerous substances that are incompatible with flammable liquids. When these substances mix, they can cause violent chemical reactions that increase risk to people, property and the environment. Some dangerous goods classes that are incompatible with flammable liquids include:


While the doors of the flammable liquids storage cabinet are shut, the cabinet provides perfect segregation from other incompatible classes of dangerous goods. However, if the cabinet doors are left open, flammable liquids and vapours could flow out of the cabinet and mix with other incompatible classes of dangerous goods. Self-closing doors ensure that the doors of the cabinet are always shut when packages are not being retrieved from the cabinet. This removes the risk of flammable liquids mixing with other incompatible classes of dangerous goods.

Download our FREE guide for segregating Dangerous Goods

Contain flammable liquids spills

Workplace incidents involving flammable liquid spills can cause a lot of harm to people, property and the environment. Spilt flammable liquids give off a lot of vapours which increases the risk of asphyxiation. If these vapours come into contact with an ignition source, a fire would erupt resulting in expensive property damage. Flammable liquids are also an environmental pollutant. If the doors of a flammable liquids storage cabinet are left open, these events remain possible. However, self-closing self-latching doors remove the risks associated with flammable liquid spills. The doors ensure that all flammable liquid spills and splashes are directed into the spill containment sump at the bottom of the cabinet.  

Insulation from workplace fires

AS1940 states that all flammable liquids storage cabinets must have a dual skinned sheet metal construction with a 40mm air gap between two walls. The purpose of this dual skinned construction is to provide the cabinet with insulation. If a fire erupted in the workplace, the insulated cabinet would stop the flammable liquids from immediately igniting which would intensify the fire. This provides workers with time to either escape or find fire fighting equipment to put out the fire before the flammable liquids ignite. If the doors of the cabinet were left open, the cabinet would not provide the necessary insulation. Without insulation the flammable liquids would be susceptible to ignition in the event of a fire. The self-closing close-fitting doors on flammable liquids storage cabinets ensure that the doors of the cabinet are always shut. This allows the cabinet to provide sufficient insulation, which prevents the flammable liquids from igniting in the event of a workplace fire.

Next Steps  

As flammable liquids pose many risks upon people, property and the environment, it’s very important that you store them in a compliant flammable liquids storage cabinet that has self-closing doors. This is a mandatory requirement of AS1940-2017 and it ensures that the cabinet always provides the ultimate level of protection for the people, property and environment of your organisation. If you would like more information on how to reduce the risks that flammable liquids have upon your workplace, download our FREE eBook by clicking on the image below.

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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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