If you’ve just purchased a flammable liquids cabinet — or even if you’ve been using them for years — read this blog. We walk you through the essential steps when installing a flammable liquids cabinet to help you comply with both WHS Regulations and Australian Safety Standards. Use our eBook to ensure a new cabinet is installed correctly, or check the compliance of your existing Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinets.
IMPORTANT: The team at STOREMASTA always recommend conducting a risk assessment on your flammable liquids (and other hazardous chemicals) before purchasing and installing a cabinet.
1. Choose a compliant location
The first step is to decide where to put the cabinet. To comply with AS1940:2017 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids you’ll need to make sure the cabinet is:
- At least 3 metres from ignition sources (power points, electrical equipment that could spark during discharge, electronics and gadgets that could create static electricity, hot work, industrial heat).
- Away from incompatible substances (compressed gases, flammable solids, oxidisers etc).
- Not blocking emergency exits.
- At least 10 metres from another aggregate quantity**
- Within a 10 second reach of a safety shower, emergency shower and first aid kit.
- Fitted with (or near) a Register of Hazardous Chemicals.
**AGGREGATE QUANTITIES: Ground floor — 850 litres per 250 square metres. Other floors — 250 litres per 250 square metres.
Flammable liquids cabinets over 250 litres
- Never installed against a common wall.
- Not installed in a public building, accommodation house, hospital/aged care/medical facility or school.
- Only installed on the ground floor (or any floor that has direct access to the street).
2. Level the cabinet
Once you’ve decided on the location ensure the surface is level and the cabinet is not resting at an angle. There are three important reasons for this:
- The cabinet needs to be stable — being on an angle can unbalance the structure making it vulnerable to being knocked over.
- If the base of the cabinet isn’t level and you fill it with heavy fuel drums this can stop the doors from closing properly. If the doors are prevented from closing automatically the cabinet is no longer compliant with AS1940:2017.
- The shelving in the cabinet is angled to ensure that leaks and spills are immediately directed into the lower compound. If the cabinet is not level this will interfere with the compliance of the spill containment facilities.
3. Segregate and fill correctly
Next, only store Class 3 Flammable Liquids within the cabinet. We know that this sounds a little repetitive, but make sure nothing but flammable liquids are placed in the cabinet. Storing incompatible substances together can cause fires, explosions and dangerous chemical reactions.
For compliance and safety please:
- Remove cardboard cartons, excess packaging and other combustible materials before placing in the cabinet.
- Don’t load the cabinet past its approved capacity rating.
- Ensure drums, tins and containers are standing upright on the shelves — and nothing is placed in the lower compound (which is designed to catch and contain leaking chemicals).
- Close the lids and wipe down containers before placing in the cabinet.
- Make sure containers are fully inside the cabinet and not preventing the doors from closing.
- Ensure the area is well-lit and that all signs, stickers and markings can be easily seen when the doors to the cabinet are closed.
4. Implement good housekeeping
Once the cabinet is actually installed, you’ll want to implement some new housekeeping procedures. These include:
- Prohibiting workers from carrying out hot work like welding and grinding near the cabinet.
- Restricting access to the area.
- Keeping the general vicinity free of combustible materials (eg, boxes, pallets, refuse, debris).
- Not allowing workers to bring personal electronics, incompatible chemicals, or vehicles near the cabinet.
- Never using the top of the cabinet as a decanting area.
- Never propping the cabinet open.
- Never move or relocate the cabinet with chemicals inside.
- Putting orders away immediately and not leaving them on the ground next to the cabinet for days (common practice).
5. Train your workers and supervisors
From our own observation and experience, flammable liquids cabinets quickly fall into disrepair if you don’t train your staff, contractors and supervisors to use them properly. Consider including in your training program:
- Hazard awareness, locations of cabinets, restricted activities.
- How to load the cabinet correctly — (capacity, segregation, opening and closing, adjusting shelving).
- How to safely clean the cabinet and clear the spill sump.
- Housekeeping in (and around) the cabinet.
Your installation and training program should also have scope for managers and supervisors because they are the ones to enforce housekeeping and operational procedures. Build responsibilities into job descriptions and hold people accountable for unsafe work practices.
6. Carry out a post-installation check
After a few weeks carry out a post-installation check to ensure the cabinet has been properly installed and is being used correctly. Especially check for:
- Ventilation issues: have workers complained of fumes near the cabinet?
- Prohibited activities: are workers carrying out repairs next to the cabinet?
- Correct usage: are mixed hazard classes being kept inside the cabinet? Is it overloaded?
- Structural integrity: is the cabinet on a level surface? Was the cabinet dented or damaged during installation in a way that could impact the integrity and safety rating of the cabinet?
For a more detailed guide to selecting and installing a flammable liquids cabinet we invite you to download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. We help you better understand flammable liquids hazards and the requirements of a compliant flammable liquids cabinet. Download and read it today by clicking on the image below: