A flammable liquids cabinet manufactured to Australian Safety Standards is a sophisticated hazard control measure that can withstand temperatures of up to 850°C. But the dual skinned walls and high-tech doors that automatically close in sequence won’t be minimising your chemical risk if you store the wrong chemicals in the cabinet, overload the shelving, or put it near an ignition source. In this blog we’ll be suggesting some key housekeeping practices to include in your operations and training manual. Train your workers and supervisors to take care of your investment — it could also save their lives.
Deliveries and Storage
Once you’ve installed your flammable liquid storage cabinet, take the time to train your workers and contractors to use it properly and follow strict housekeeping procedures. Please include the following:
- Put away chemical deliveries immediately — there is no point having a flammable liquids cabinet if chemicals are left sitting on the ground next to the cabinet.
- Streamline your chemical deliveries to avoid excess stocks.
- Never load a flammable liquids cabinet past its approved storage capacity (refer to the label on the cabinet).
- Remove excess packaging (cardboard, polystyrene, plastic cartons), these materials are combustible and increase the fire hazard.
- Wipe down the exterior of containers and ensure that all lids are in place before the containers are put back in the cabinet.
- Stack containers and drums carefully so they don’t protrude and block the self-closing mechanism on the doors.
- Don’t place any items in the spill compound.
- Don’t waste valuable shelf space on non-flammables — eg, tools, PPE and sundry items.
- Never place ignition sources inside the cabinet — eg, matches, lighting, electronics.
- Don’t use sticks, mops handles, or other items to prop open the doors on the cabinet. They are supposed to be kept closed.
- Don’t use the top of the flammable liquid storage cabinet as a decanting station.
- Keep the top of the cabinet clear and don’t allow anyone to use it as an extra shelf for chemical drums, coffee cups, paperwork, PPE.
- Clear the sump immediately after a leak or spill and don’t forget to wipe down the shelves. Dispose of spilled waste properly.
Lighting and signage
In Australia, hazardous chemicals must be kept in well lit areas and marked with appropriate warning placards and signage. It is a requirement of Australian Safety Standards that all warning signs and regulatory markings must be completely visible whenever the cabinet doors are closed. Please ensure that:
- Warning signs, placards and labels are not covered in any way — eg, uniforms or fabric that draping down over the sides, stickers, sheet metal leaning up against the cabinet, pallets or forklift vehicles left in front.
- Missing, damaged, scratched, defaced, or faded signs are replaced immediately.
- Lighting is safe and fully functional — eg, there is enough lighting to clearly read the signs and it is not discharging or creating sparks.
Maintenance, cleaning and repair work
Take care of the area surrounding your flammable liquid storage cabinet, this includes keeping it clean and tidy as well as restricting the activities you allow there. Consider the following best practices as a minimum:
- Don’t allow workers and contractors to carry out maintenance and repair work near the cabinet. You don’t want activities like welding, cutting, soldering and grinding that generate heat, sparks and flames.
- Never allow a person to climb inside the cabinet for any reason.
- Restrict vehicular access to the area unless you have crash bollards or other impact protection around the cabinet.
- Ensure cleaners, maintenance contractors, delivery drivers and other personnel don’t bring incompatible chemicals, electronic gadgets and other ignition sources into the area.
- Make sure there is always a clear space between the cabinet and the first aid kit, emergency shower and eyewash station.
- Keep the area in front of the cabinet free of obstructions (eg, parked forklifts, unloaded pallets) and minimise the amount of combustible materials kept in the vicinity of the cabinet.
Maintaining the cabinet
You should carry out regular integrity checks on your cabinet, we suggest as a minimum:
- Inspecting the cabinet for signs of corrosion, spillage, dents and damage.
- Following up with workers or contractors who did not report incidents involving the cabinet eg, they knocked over the cabinet with a forklift and didn’t tell anyone.
- Inspecting drums and containers inside the cabinet for signs of deterioration and damage.
- Checking working parts and componentry — eg, are the doors closing automatically in sequence? is the spill sump liquid tight? is the shelving intact?
Do you need a flammable liquids cabinet? Maybe you already have a few installed and are unsure if they are still safe and compliant? Why not download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors, we detail the construction specifications and installation requirements of an indoor flammable liquids cabinet and explain how to carry out a risk assessment on the Class 3 Flammable Liquids in your workplace. Download and read it now by clicking on the image below: