How flammable liquids cabinets reduce safety and compliance risk 

Oct 7, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

Class 3 Flammable Liquids require careful management and storage and in this blog, we’ll be outlining 8 key ways an indoor safety cabinet — manufactured to Australia Standard AS1940:2017 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids — reduces your safety and compliance risk. 


1. Risk management

Using safety cabinets that have been purpose built for Class 3 Flammable Liquids is an accepted isolation control that will help you comply with Sections 32-38 and 351 of the WHS Regulations. You are required to manage the risks associated with using, handling, generating or storing a hazardous chemical — and in particular, isolate the chemicals from people on the job site. 


2. Workplace facilities

Flammable liquids cabinets help create a work environment where your staff and contractors can safely carry out their work. This is a requirement of Section 42 of the WHS Regulations. The cabinets safely contain flammable vapours and harmful fumes, but more importantly — promote good housekeeping practices and minimise the instances of chemical containers lying around the job site or sitting open on bench tops. 


3. Emergency planning

Every workplace in Australia needs some type of emergency plan, especially if your business carries Class 3 Flammable liquids (Section 43 WHS Regulations).  Using a safety cabinet assists the emergency management process in the following ways: 

  • Flammable liquids are consolidated into clearly marked areas, rather than having chemicals lying all around the job site. 
  • Safety cabinets and aggregate quantities can be marked on site plans and evacuation maps. 
  • Evacuation routes can be planned and directed away from flammable liquids stores. 
  • Cabinet construction materials means they can withstand temperatures of up to 850°C — giving building occupants and workers up to 10 minutes to engage fire protection systems and evacuate the area. 


4. Exposure standards

Flammable liquids emit harmful fumes, vapours, mists and other emissions — and if allowed to accumulate in the breathing zones of workers — can cause a wide range of adverse health affects (eg, dizziness, nausea, asthma, cancer, death).  

It is a legal requirement under Section 49 of the WHS Regulations to ensure that chemical concentration levels (in the breathing zones of workers) remain within the workplace exposure standards issued by Safe Work Australia. Indoor flammable liquids cabinet are designed to contain vapours and fumes within the cabinet (instead of allowing them to contaminate work areas). 


5. Hazardous atmospheres 

Keeping flammable chemicals inside a stainless-steel safety cabinet that has close fitting doors, is liquid tight, and unvented also minimises the likelihood of flammable liquids contributing to a hazardous atmosphere. Examples include:

  • Oxygen deficient environments — open containers of flammable liquids in a confined space or low lying areas can displace the oxygen content of the air. 
  • Oxygen rich environment — presence of oxidisers will increase oxygen concentrations and also the risk of fires and explosions. 
  • Explosive environment — when chemical concentration (and temperatures) increase, flammable liquids can reach their explosive and auto-ignition range. This is greatly reduced as flammable liquids cabinets restrict the quantities able to be stored in one place.
  • Ignition sources — cabinets place a barrier between the chemicals and ignition sources like heat, sparks, flames, and static discharge.  


6. Safety signage

Flammable liquids cabinets are fitted with compliant warning signs that help you comply with Section 353 of the WHS Regulations — to warn workers and site personnel of specific hazards associated with chemicals. The Regulation state that warning signs are to be clearly visible and placed as close to the hazard as possible. 


7. Chemical stability

Flammable liquids cabinets also help keep volatile chemicals stable and isolated from incompatible substances. Because the cabinets are dual-skinned and located indoors, the chemicals inside the cabinet remain at a relatively even temperature. 

Using a Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinet helps you meet Section 354 of the Regulations which also require you to prevent the flammable liquids from increasing the risks associated with other chemicals or substances stored at the job site.  


8. Spill management

Workplaces must have spill management and containment facilities if there is any risk of an uncontrolled release of hazardous chemicals. Chemical releases can include leaks or spills from: 

  • Cracked, damaged, or broken containers. 
  • Open containers that get knocked over. 
  • Containers that are dropped, in a tall stack that collapses, or impacted. 

Flammable liquids cabinets are 100% liquid tight and can safely contain chemical leaks without releasing harmful liquids, vapours, and effluent into work areas or the environment. This is required under Section 257 of the WHS Regulations. 


Next steps 

Why not download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors to learn more about how a Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinet can reduce your chemical compliance risk and improve your overall safety rating. It’s written in clear, Australian English and uses practical examples from real workplaces. 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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