What Are The Flammable Liquid Storage Cabinet Requirements?

Originally published October 20, 2021 10:46:13 PM

Have you conducted a chemical risk assessment and determined the need for Class 3 Flammable Liquids storage? Then we congratulation you on taking the steps towards chemical compliance! To make this process easier for you, we’ve rounded up the flammable liquid storage cabinet requirements, so you can implement a storage solution that’s 100% compliant. Let’s look at the 5 key requirements for storage cabinets now. 

REMEMBER: Class 3 Flammable Liquids are the only type of chemical that should be stored in a flammable cabinet. Read the Safety Data Sheets to determine the dangerous goods class of your chemicals and ensure incompatible substances aren’t stored in or on your cabinet.  

Storing Class 3 Flammable Liquids

The Australian Standard AS 1940:2017 - The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids details the requirements for flammable cabinets. 

The requirements from Section 4.9 Storage In Storage Cabinets include: 

  • Cabinet construction 
  • Cabinet marking 
  • Cabinet location 
  • Exclusion of ignition sources 
  • Storage in storage cabinets

We'll explain each of these requirements of AS 1940:2017 in further detail below, so you can make sure that your flammable liquid storage cabinets are meeting the requirements. 

dangerous-goods-risk-assessmentIf you’re planning on storing flammable liquids in safety cabinets, there are requirements that you need to meet to ensure compliance.

Cabinet Construction

When selecting a flammable cabinet, the most important factor you need to consider is if the cabinet is constructed in full conformance with AS 1940:2017. By choosing a compliant flammable cabinet, you’re not only investing in a proven risk control measure, you’re also meeting the requirements of WHS Regulations and Australian Standards. 

Key features of a compliant cabinet include: 

  1. Double-walled sheet steel construction for walls, floor, door and roof. Space of at least 40 mm between walls. 
  2. Any gaps (around doors, into the space between walls) must be sealed to prevent spread of flames or heat radiation. 
  3. Inner base of the cabinet must form a liquid-tight spill containment compound at least 150 mm deep. This area must not be used as a storage space. 
  4. Leaks must be directed into the lower spill containment compound. 
  5. Shelving needs to be perforated and must carry the maximum load. 
  6. Doors shall be self-closing, close-fitting. They must also be held shut automatically by catches (at 2 or more points). 
  7. If doors have a device to hold them open when required, it must have an automatic release when temperatures exceed 80°C. 
  8. Materials of components which are vital to the structural integrity of the cabinet must not melt at temperatures below 850°C. Seals and gaskets are accepted but should be avoided if their failure affects the protective function of the flammable cabinet. 

SC250

When selecting a flammable liquids cabinet, make sure that it’s been manufactured to meet the requirements of the Australian Standard AS 1940:2017.

Cabinet Marking 

When you’re storing flammable liquids, it’s important that all people onsite know that there are dangerous goods present. This includes alerting staff, supervisors, contractors and visitors to your business. 

One of the steps to achieving this it to ensure that the relevant safety signage is clearly marked on your flammable cabinets.  

In Section 4.9.4 of AS 1940:2017, the requirements for cabinet marking are listed. Each cabinet shall be marked with—  

(a) the name and address of the manufacturer or, for imported cabinets, the distributor within Australia;  

(b) the maximum storage capacity;  

(c) a Class 3 dangerous goods label with sides of at least 250 mm nominal length; and  

(d) a sign bearing the words ‘NO SMOKING, NO IGNITION SOURCES WITHIN 3 m’ in lettering at least 50 mm high.  

Compliant safety cabinets come with pre-installed signage, although it is your responsibility to maintain all signs — and replace signage that’s missing or in disrepair.  

You should also develop a schedule of regular cabinet inspections to make sure that all signs and markings on your flammable cabinet are clearly visible when the cabinet doors are shut. 

sc060You’re required to maintain safety signage on your flammable cabinets so all personnel know that dangerous goods are being stored in that location.

Cabinet Location 

The position of your cabinet is crucial in maintaining a safe environment in your workplace. If you require multiple cabinets in the one work area, the planning process can be a little complicated. However, once you have a firm understanding of the cabinet location requirements, your job will be made a lot easier.

AS 1940:2017 requirements for flammable cabinet locations include:  

  • The location of your cabinet must not impede escape during an emergency – don’t install a cabinet close to an emergency exit or in a stairwell, hallway or any other area that is necessary in an emergency evacuation 
  • Aggregate capacities of cabinets must not be greater than 850 L per 250 m2 on a ground floor area; or (ii) 250 L per 250 m2 on other floors.  
  • Each aggregate quantity must be separated by a distance of at least 10 m.  

For cabinets over 850L in capacity, the additional requirements for cabinet location apply: 

  • These cabinets can’t be installed in buildings including hospitals, schools, aged care facilities, residential accommodation and commercial buildings 
  • Cabinets must not be placed on a floor which doesn’t have direct access to ground level or the street 
  • Cabinets shall not be located closer than 3 m to common walls, unless the wall is made of concrete or masonry, and it extends 3 m above the top of the cabinet and 3 m either side of the cabinet 

Exclusion Of Ignition Sources

As we know, flammable liquids are extremely volatile substances that can easily ignite — causing devastating workplace fires or explosions. One of the key considerations when installing and maintaining your flammable cabinet, is to ensure that ignition sources are prohibited within 3 m of the cabinet. 

Ignition sources may be anything from a power point or cigarette butt to welding equipment or static electricity. If the ignition source meets your store of flammable liquids, the flammable vapours will ignite which can cause fire, explosion or flashback.   

Section 4.9.7 Exclusion of ignition sources of the standard explains: 

There shall be no ignition sources within the cabinet.  

Where flammable liquids are stored, ignition sources shall be excluded from the area outside the cabinet to a distance of 3 m measured laterally, and from floor level to a height of 1 m above any opening in the cabinet, including the door, or a distance determined in accordance with AS/NZS 60079.10.1.  

Where only combustible liquids are kept in the cabinet, ignition sources shall be avoided within the spaces specified above. 

Source Of Ignition

The Australian Standard includes requirements for the exclusion of ignition sources near flammable liquid stores to reduce the risk of fire or explosion.

Storage In Storage Cabinets 

Now that you’ve successfully selected and set up your cabinet, now comes the daily work of keeping it in order. 

The standard explains the requirements for storage: 

4.9.8 Storage in storage cabinets  

The following operational requirements and recommendations apply:  

(a) Persons shall be prevented from entering the cabinet.  

(b) Drums shall not be stacked more than two high if they are greater than 60 L capacity.  

(c) Only one drum of more than 60 L capacity should be kept in a horizontal (decanting) position at any time.  

(d) Only closed packages, or those fitted with a tap, should be stored in the cabinet. 

When working with flammable liquids, education is key. Many unfortunate incidences such as human harm, fire or explosion could have been prevented if all staff, supervisors, contractors and visitors were made aware of the dangers posed by flammable liquids in the workplace. 

By investing the time in staff training — so your team know how to correctly stack, load, use and maintain a flammable cabinet — you can greatly reduce the risk associated with the storage and handling of Class 3 Dangerous Goods. 

Additional Considerations For Your Flammable Cabinets 

While we’ve listed the key requirements for flammable liquid storage cabinets, there are other considerations that can improve the safety of your organisation.

Questions may include: 

  • Do my flammable cabinets require ventilation 
  • Are my staff trained to safely handle and store flammable liquids? 
  • Have I implemented a regular cabinet inspection and maintenance plan? 
  • Do I have adequate housekeeping to maintain the safety and compliance of the cabinets? 

From the initial cabinet selection to the installation, use and ongoing maintenance of the cabinet, you are required to make sure that your high-tech risk control measure stays safe and compliant. 

Do Your Cabinets Meet The Requirements? 

We hope this blog has shed light on the requirements you’ll need to consider when you’re selecting, installing, using and maintaining flammable liquid storage cabinets. Remember, if you don’t meet these requirements, you could risk human harm, loss of property, environmental damage as well as be in breach of WHS Regulations. If you want to learn more about meeting your obligations, why not download our eBook? Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors is a helpful guide that will take you step-by-step through the ways you can reduce risk at your workplace. Click on the image below to access our free 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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