Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 5) meeting Australian Safety Standards 

Dec 2, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

We’ve reached Part 5 of our series on flammable liquids compliance. In the last 4 blogs we’ve reviewed the legislation and Codes of Practice underpinning chemical safety in Australia, now we’ll be explaining the legalities when applying Australian Safety Standards. The overall aim of these blogs is to provide you with the knowledge and resources you need to comply with WHS legislation — and minimise the chemical hazards at your job site. 

What are ‘Standards’ 

The world’s first Standards were issued during the industrial revolution (late 1800s). They were technical documents to ‘standardise’ the construction and safety of high-precision machine tools and general factory operations.  

Standards have developed a lot since then, and (now in the 21st Century) they clearly set out things like construction specifications, safety equipment, and working procedures. Their primary purpose is to ensure the world’s products, services, systems, and workplaces are safe, effective and reliable.  

Standards also ensure that manufacturers, workplaces and industry groups keep up with the latest technologies, and implement new findings regarding industrial diseases or negative environmental impacts. 


Standards and their agencies 

Standards are produced and regulated on several levels including: 

  • International Standards - there are a number of international organisations that produce Standards, the most well known is (ISO) International Organization for Standardisation. 
  • Regional Standards - oversee Standards in regional areas. Australia is a member of the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC).  
  • Industry Standards - produce and administer Standards within industry groups. One of the most familiar industry standards is Food Standards Australian New Zealand (FSANZ). other examples include the Pharmacy Guild, and the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board. 
  • National Standards - operate in various countries and are usually aligned with an international organisation. Standards Australia is a member of ISO, it develops and facilitates the adoption of internationally-recognised standards within Australia. 

Standards and legislation 

Complying with Standards is mostly voluntary — unless a specific Standard is mandated under legislation, eg, Workplace Exposure Standards are mandatory under the WHS Regulations.  

But when carrying Dangerous Goods like flammable liquids, we recommend complying with Australian Safety Standards as far as possible because they provide known risk control strategies and are recognised by WHS Regulators and other government agencies.  

Put another way, if you don’t comply with Australian Safety Standards and you had a critical incident at your workplace, could you present a legitimate reason in court for ignoring their guidelines? 


AS1940:2017 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids 

Here at STOREMASTA, we consider AS1940:2017 to be an essential document if you store any quantity of Class 3 flammable liquids. It details the minimum acceptable safety requirements for flammable liquids storage, as well as operating procedures, emergency planning and fire protection.  

The Standard should be used during the risk assessment process as it provides specific details of:

  • Flammable liquids cabinets. 
  • Maximum quantities for indoor stores. 
  • Suitable (and unsuitable) chemical storage locations. 
  • Security, signs and warning placards. 
  • Controlling ignition sources. 
  • Lighting, and electrical safety. 
  • Fuel dispensing. 
  • Recommended PPE. 
  • Training and record keeping. 


Workplace Exposure Standards 

Hazardous chemicals release harmful contaminants into the air and breathing zones of workers. These contaminants take the form of dusts, fumes, vapours and mists and can be harmful if inhaled or ingested by workers.  

Workplace Exposure Standards set the acceptable chemical concentration levels within the breathing zones of workers (and other onsite personnel). If any of your flammable liquids have a workplace exposure standard (check the Safety Data Sheet) compliance is mandatory. 

REMEMBER: Workplace exposure standards are referenced in Australian WHS Regulations. 

Other relevant Standards 

Handling and storing any class of Dangerous Goods is challenging, and there is never a prescribed method or piece of equipment that will be 100% effective at every workplace. When carrying Class 3 Flammable Liquids we always recommend cross referencing other Australian Standards based on the quantities and container types you are using.  


Consider the following: 

AS3833:2007 — The storage and handling of mixed classes of dangerous goods, in packages and intermediate bulk containers 

If you store any type of chemicals in packages or IBCs we recommend following AS3833:200. Apart from detailing chemical incompatibilities and segregation distances, this Standard provides essential warehouse, storage, housekeeping, ventilation, waste disposal, and spill management practices. 

AS4775:2007 — Emergency eyewash and shower equipment 

If a risk assessment indicates there is a risk of physical injury from flammable liquids, you may need to install emergency eyewash and shower equipment within 2-10 metres of your safety cabinets. AS4775:2007 outlines the minimum specifications for each piece of equipment, as well as installation, post-installation testing and ongoing maintenance.


Next steps 

Do you need more information about the best way to store Class 3 flammable liquids legally and safely? We recommend downloading our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors for a better understanding of how a flammable liquids safety cabinet can reduce your chemical safety risk. Download now by clicking on the image below:  

Essential Considerations when Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors download Free eBook

Read the whole series 

Part 1 - Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 1) legislative framework in Australia 

Part 2 - Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 2) applying the WHS Act 

Part 3 - Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 3) navigating the WHS Regulations 

Part 4 - Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 4) using Codes of Practice 

Part 6 - Flammable Liquids Compliance (Part 6) other guidance materials

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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