Flammable Liquids Safety: can your workers answer these questions? 

Aug 15, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

Your commitment to chemical safety at the job site should be reflected in every area of site operations, especially staff training. This blog is like a school test. If our field auditors walked onto your job site today and asked all the workers who use or handle Class 3 Flammable Liquids the following questions, would they know the answers without having to ask someone else for help? If the answer is no, you might want to prioritise a chemical training session with your workers and contractors.

1. Hazard class

If we walked onto the job site today and randomly asked the worker standing nearest to the flammable liquids cabinet, would they be able to explain the chemical properties of the substances contained in the cabinet?

 Could they tell us (without a cheat sheet or asking a supervisor) each chemical’s: 

  • Hazard Class. Class 3 Flammable Liquids are liquids that can burn at room temperature, and once alight can spread quickly. Burning liquids can move down stairwells, into adjacent offices, and under doors or storage cabinets. 
  • Individual health hazards. Are any of the flammable liquids in the cabinet carcinogenic, corrosive, toxic or harmful to the environment? 
  • Incompatibilities. Are there any materials or substances kept onsite that are incompatible with flammable liquids? And do you know where these incompatible substances are located onsite. 
  • Asphyxiation potential. In a confined space (eg. small room) chemical fumes can quickly displace the oxygen in the air. Anyone entering an oxygen deficient room could die. 


2. Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

If we asked a worker passing the fuel decanting station or flammable liquids store for the Register of Hazardous Chemicals, would they know what to do? Without asking for assistance, could every worker in the area: 

  • Access the Register of Hazardous Chemicals within 1-2 minutes? 
  • Locate the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for every chemical used or stored in the immediate area. 
  • Show us information on the SDS about emergency procedures, first aid responses, PPE, storage and handling guidelines. 


3. Flashpoint and explosive range

Could every worker handling Class 3 Flammable Liquids demonstrate an understanding of each chemical’s flashpoint, explosive range and auto-ignition temperature? Would they know anything about: 

  • Flashbacks, vapour trails and explosions. Flammable liquids don’t actually burn, it is the vapours that ignite.  
  • Ignition sources. Anything that could potentially ignite the chemicals eg, matches, electrical equipment, static electricity, hot machinery, sparks, friction. 
  • Explosive range. When flammable liquids reach certain temperatures and concentration levels they can explode, or even ignite without an ignition source. 


4. Flammable Liquids Storage Cabinets

Do your workers know the location of your flammable liquid storage cabinets and understand how to use them correctly? We know it sounds like overkill, but your workers definitely need to be trained to use a safety cabinet properly.  

If we spot-tested them today could they tell us: 

  • What type of chemicals can be safely stored inside the cabinets? 
  • Maximum capacity of the cabinet, and the largest container allowed to be kept inside. 
  • Stacking procedure — to ensure that drums and containers are fully inside the cabinet and don’t prevent the door from closing. 
  • That the lower spill compound must be kept clear and never be used as a storage area. 
  • How to safely clear the spill sump. 
  • Correct signage and placards that must always be visible when the doors are closed. 
  • What to do if they discovered an unknown chemical, or compliance breach in (or near) the cabinet. 

5. Safety showers and eyewash stations

Do workers and contractors who handle flammable liquids know what to do if they were sprayed, splashed, or immersed in chemicals. Could they physically show you: 

  • Location of the nearest safety shower and eyewash station. 
  • How to activate each unit. 
  • Correct flushing procedures (eg, flushing times, holding eyes open with hands, removing clothing, activating panic alarms). 
  • Notification and reporting procedures. 


6. Housekeeping

Do your workers understand their individual responsibilities to implement housekeeping procedures? Of course, we could ask them about their knowledge of housekeeping, but often the most obvious way to find the answer is to just look around.  

If we inspected your workplace today would we find: 

  • Chemical containers with the lids off — left on bench tops, pallets or just on the ground. 
  • Drums or containers of flammable liquids in unstable stacks or piles. 
  • Overloaded bunds and secondary containment systems. 
  • Leaking and broken containers inside the cabinet, and spill sump full of liquid. 
  • Cabinet doors propped open with sticks or other chemical drums. 
  • Combustible materials stored in (or around) the cabinet. 


Next steps 

Many of the answers to these questions are presented in more detail in our new eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. We invite you to download it now — completely free of charge. In clear, plain English we provide you with an excellent resource to use as the basis of your next staff meeting, chemical training program, or flammable liquids risk assessment. Download and read it today by clicking on the image below:  

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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