Flammable Liquids Management: Learning From Experts,  Evidence and Experience

Originally published December 16, 2021 10:58:40 PM, updated January 20, 2022

This is our final blog in our series on the 10 Principles of Good Work Design and how they can improve work health and safety for businesses that carry Class 3 Flammable Liquids. In this blog, we’ll be discussing how learning from experts, evidence and experience can help you develop safer work systems and better manage your flammable liquids.  

“Principle 10:Good work design also involves learning from experts, evidence, and experience.” Safe Work Australia 

What Is Good Work Design? 

Good work design can be applied to any workplace, across any industry. It focuses on the ability to create optimum work health and safety conditions, as well as enhancing the performance of staff, increasing job satisfaction and bolstering business success. 

In this series, we’ve explored each of the 10 Principles of Good Work Design from considering the highest level of protection to identifying hazards, assessing and controlling risks and seeking continuous improvement. Each of the 10 principles has been created by Safe Work Australia to help organisations improve workplace health and safety matters. 

While we’re applying these principles to areas of your organisation that handle or store flammable liquids, these principles are relevant to any business that carries any type of dangerous good.  

Principle 10 of Good Work Design details the importance of knowledge when creating a safer workplace. It draws attention to the need for 3 sources of information:  

  1. insights from industry experts 
  2. data-driven evidence  
  3. workplace experience 
risk_management_staff

Drawing knowledge from experts, evidence and experience is a practical way to improve good work design in your organisation.

Let’s now explore how learning from experts can not only strengthen flammable liquids work processes — but improve the success of your team and your organisation.  

#1. Learning from Experts 

When developing safe work systems and operating procedures for storing and handling flammable liquids, Good Work Design Principle 10 recognises the importance of collaborating with industry experts that have experience in the work design process.  

Industry experts that can offer insight on flammable liquids and Dangerous Goods may include: 

  • Dangerous Goods Consultants experienced in interpreting Australian WHS Regulations, Codes of Practice, and Safety Standards relating to flammable liquids. They can assist when installing compliant chemical storage and decanting systems. 
  • Occupational Hygienists who can assist with testing and monitoring chemical concentration levels in the breathing zones of workers. 
  • Ergonomists who can advise on the physical design of work areas, manual handling techniques, and safety equipment. 
  • Chemical suppliers who can advise on the impacts of chemical health hazards and PPE. 

For large projects or organisational overhauls, you may also need to collaborate with qualified trade technicians, engineers, architects, and ICT professionals during both the design and implementation stage.  

Training Staff and Contractors in Flammable Liquids Safety

To improve your work design process, you may need to speak with industry professionals such as technicians and engineers.  

The suitability of these people will be determined by their:

  • Technical expertise and field experience 
  • Qualifications, accreditations, and professional memberships 
  • Industry reputation 
  • Communication and interpersonal skills  

#2. Learning from Evidence 

Whether you are carrying out a risk assessment on your flammable liquids stores or developing a decanting procedure, there is a huge body of written work that can be referenced.  

How to structure a chemical risk assessmentRefer to resources such as the Australian Standards when conducting a risk assessment or follow-up risk assessment on your flammable liquids handling and storage areas.

By utilising these valuable resources, you can improve your knowledge on flammable liquids safety and develop better work processes that can assist your organisation.

We suggest referring to the following resources: 

  • Australian Standards — Australian Safety Standards exist for all the major chemical hazard classes including flammable liquids. Make sure your familiar with AS1940:2017 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids, but we also recommend AS3833:2007 — The storage and handling of mixed classes of dangerous goods, in packages and intermediate bulk containers. 
  • WHS Regulators — the websites of Safe Work Australia and the state WHS Regulators have a library of written resources including approved Codes of Practices, official guidance materials, newsletters, and web content (eg, accident reports, safety alerts). 
  • Industry associations— industry associations often develop their own industry standards and safety guidelines. 
  • Other sources — research papers, trade magazines, Safety Data Sheets, overseas WHS regulators. 

#3. Learning from Experience 

Your work design process should also consider the impacts of past incidents, injuries and near-misses that have occurred at your own workplace or other job sites. Learning from experience also includes the consultative process — gathering feedback from workers and contractors.  

We’ll now go into further detail about how you can learn from experience — and improve your work design process — by investigating incidents in your own workplace, requesting staff feedback and considering industry incidents.   

Investigating Internal Incidents 

An uncontrolled chemical spill, death or notifiable injury is an indication that your work systems need review. Investigating the system failures that contributed to a workplace incident allows you to make changes to your work procedures to ensure it never happens again.  

STOREMASTA Blog Image - HAZCHEM Alert - do you need to carry out a risk assesmentBy examining your internal incidents, you can gain valuable knowledge about improvements that can be made in your organisation. 

Here are some examples of workplace safety incidents that can be improved with good work design: 

  • Incorrect use of PPE due to insufficient supervision — changing handling procedures to incorporate a buddy system when using chemicals. 
  • Failure of PPE due to incorrect fitting — introducing PPE purchasing, fitting, and issue procedures. 
  • Chemical handling errors because of time pressure — hiring of additional workers and contractors to reduce extended periods of overtime. 
  • Spill in chemical store because of overloaded cabinets — investigating why chemical cabinets were overloaded, possibly purchasing additional cabinets. 
  • Flashback during decanting because a contractor began welding near the decanting station — introducing procedures for assigning a supervisor to contractors who carry out hot-work and any work process that creates sparks, flames, or electrical/static discharge. 

Gathering Feedback From Workers 

Finally, consider the feedback from workers involved in each flammable liquids job task. Whether it’s handling, storing, decanting or transferring  Dangerous Goods, your staff are dealing with work processes and safety systems on a daily basis. Through their everyday tasks, they have a unique knowledge about the work health and safety conditions and may be able to contribute valuable information that can assist with improving good work design. 

dangerous-goods-risk-assessment

You can gain knowledge in flammable liquids management by conferring with staff. 

To gather feedback from your workers, you could invite relevant staff to safety forums or include your personnel in the safety committee. You could also directly interview staff during monitoring and testing programs after new work methods have been introduced. This will give you honest and accurate information about the effectiveness of your work process and safety standards. 

Considering Industry Incidents 

Most WHS Regulators in Australia publish updates, accident reports and statistics about workplace deaths, injuries and critical incidents. Much can be learned from the recommendations of the Regulators.  

There are many examples of industry incidents, including: 

  • Victoria — worker was burned when a vacuum cleaner used to clean-up flammable liquids in a confined space triggered an explosion. WorkSafe Victoria recommended proper training so workers know how to handle the Dangerous Goods they work with, and procedures to ensure ignition sources are not brought into confined spaces. 
  • Western Australia — worker was burned when a jerrycan of petrol ignited as the fuel was being poured into a compressor. The compressor was in the back of a ute. Placing containers on the ground when filling, keeping the nozzle in contact with the container to prevent static, and not refuelling a machine while it is running were among the recommendations by SafeWork WA. 

How Are You Managing Your Flammable Liquids? 

Thanks for reading the final instalment in our blog series on the 10 Principles of Good Work Design and how they can be applied to flammable liquids management. Good work design can be applied to any workplace that carries flammable liquids or Dangerous Goods and offers a practical framework for you to improve your work health and safety processes. If you’re interested in learning from the experts, as we mentioned above, why not access our helpful eBook? Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors clearly explains everything you need to know about selecting, installing and maintaining an indoor flammable liquids cabinet. As a proven risk control measure, flammable cabinets are designed to help you improve workplace safety, storage efficiency and chemical compliance. Access our free guide now by simply clicking on the image below. 

Essential Considerations when Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors download Free eBook

Like what you’re reading?  

Explore our whole blog series on Good Work Design and flammable liquids: 

Blog 1 – Applying The Principles Of Good Work Design To Flammable Liquids Handling and Storage 

Blog 2 – Good Work Design: Enhancing The Health and Wellbeing Of Staff Who Work With Flammable Liquids 

Blog 3 – How Good Work Design Can Improve Operational Costs, Productivity and Flammable Liquids Safety 

Blog 4 – Designing Out Risk and Hazards When Using Class 3 Flammable Liquids 

Blog 5 – Putting Good Work Design Into Practice On Your Class 3 Flammable Liquids 

Blog 6 – Applying Good Work Design Principles Across The Operational Lifecycle Of Flammable Liquids 

Blog 7 – Flammable Liquids Safety: The Role Of Leaders and Decision Makers 

Blog 8 – Good Work Design: Involving Your Workers In Flammable Liquids Safety 

Blog 9 – Good Work Design: The Systematic Approach To Flammable Liquids Risk Management 

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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