Applying good work design principles across the operational lifecycle of flammable liquids  

Oct 7, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

This blog continues our series on applying the principles of Good Work Design to Class 3 Flammable Liquids storage and handling. In this edition we’ll be unpacking some of the key steps in the supply chain and operational lifecycle of your flammable liquids, then outlining some important considerations when developing safe work systems. 

Principle 6 — Good work design is applied along the supply chain and across the operational lifecycle. Safe Work Australia. 


Good Work Design - Principle 6 

Good Work Design Principle 6 is about evaluating each step in the supply chain and operational lifecycle of your flammable liquids when developing safe work systems. Site operating systems and work procedures should be considering each of the following (as a minimum): 

  1. Ordering chemicals - what quantities need to be kept onsite, how often will deliveries be received?
  2. Receiving orders - who is on hand to receive and process each chemical delivery? 
  3. Unloading - who is unloading the chemicals and how have they been packed? 
  4. Transfer - how will the chemicals be transferred between departments and work areas? 
  5. Decanting - what decanting equipment and procedures are being used? 
  6. Usage - where and how are the chemicals being used, and in what quantities? 
  7. Production - what chemicals are used in production processes? 
  8. Storage - where are chemicals being stored? What storage equipment is being used? 
  9. Spills - what spill containment and clean-up systems are in place? 
  10. Disposal - how is chemical waste isolated for disposal? Who is processing the waste? 

REMEMBER: The operational life cycle of flammable liquids can also be impacted by power supply outages, lack of preventative maintenance, and interruptions to the ICT network.  


Supply Chain 

Many operational and storage hazards can be designed out when you have a thorough understanding of your supply chain networks. Key steps include: 

1. Ordering chemicals

The purchasing and procurement team should have built solid relationships with chemical suppliers and their delivery agents. It is a requirement of Australian Safety Standards to keep quantities of flammable liquids at a minimum, and this can be achieved by streamlining the delivery schedule. 

2. Receiving orders

Consider who will be on hand to receive and process chemical orders — you don’t want a situation where delivery trucks arrive and leave chemicals sitting on the ground without bunding or impact protection. 

Each order needs to be checked for accuracy against the purchase order, as well as ensuring chemical containers are intact and have appropriate labels/Safety Data Sheets (SDSs). You’ll want to use reputable suppliers who design out hazards as they pack and pick chemical orders. 

3. Unloading 

Many chemical hazards arise when chemical are being unloaded. If the chemicals have become unstable during transport or the supplier has used an excessive amount of packaging, this can increase the risk of spillage, chemical exposure, fires and explosions. 

Make sure operators of delivery vehicles obey speed limits, don’t bring ignition sources onto the job site, and use safe handling practices when unloading the chemicals.  


Operational Lifecycle 

Once the chemicals have been safely received onsite, you’ll need proper storage and decanting equipment, plus safety procedures to prevent the chemicals from igniting, exploding, or damaging the health of your workers. Key steps in the operational lifecycle include: 

4. Transfer

Chemical orders need to be transferred to the appropriate storage area. Care must be taken when removing packaging materials as excessive force could damage a container and cause an uncontrolled spill.  

Workers should be trained in proper manual handling (with PPE) as dropping a chemical container can cause more than a back injury (burns, eye injuries). You may also need to purchase drum dolly’s, caddies or trollies to safely transport chemical containers around the job site. If you do, consider the durability and manufacturing quality of this equipment. 

5. Decanting

Chemical decanting is an area where good work design can immediately reduce chemical waste, cut costs, and eliminate handling hazards. Rather than using hand-pouring techniques, efficient decanting equipment can minimise chemical exposure to workers — and ignition sources. 

6. Usage

Having safe work procedures for every job task that involves flammable liquids is critical. This includes the actual tasks involving the chemicals (eg, filling outdoor tools, decanting, lubricating machines) and other tasks being undertaken in the same area (eg, welding, forklift deliveries, using electronics). 

 7. Production

If chemicals are used in production processes, you’ll need to incorporate this into your supply chain management — particularly if a late delivery could impede the production schedule.  You’ll also need to consider if a tight schedule could place workers under pressure, leading to hazardous shortcuts or processing errors.  

8. Storage

Using Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinets plays a key role in good work design, but ensure you carry out risk assessments to ensure the cabinets are suited to the quantities and container sizes you use. Consider also the floor surface (is it level?) and space surrounding your chemical stores. 

 9. Spills

Flammable liquids cabinets, bunding, and secondary containment products are all excellent ways of addressing chemical spill hazards, but you still need safe work procedures for clearing sumps and bunds.  

 10. Disposal

The operational lifecycle of chemicals also includes waste collection and disposal. Waste from flammable liquids is still a fire and explosion hazard and needs to be factoring into your work design methodology. 



Next steps 

Having flammable liquids cabinets that have been manufactured to Australian Safety Standards is a critical element of good work design within the operational lifecycle of your chemicals. For more information about how to reduce your chemical compliance risk, download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. Use it as the base of your next risk assessment or flammable liquids training program. 

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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