Have you just purchased and installed a shiny new flammable liquids cabinet? Train your handling staff and supervisors from the get-go in correct stacking and loading practices. You would be amazed at how many times we see these high-tech safety devices — proven chemical control measures — rendered non-compliant due to careless loading and housekeeping practices. Use this blog as the base of your next training session or safety forum.
IMPORTANT: We encourage you to familiarise yourself with cabinet loading practices in Section 4.9 of Australian Standard AS1940:2017 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids.
Correctly installing your indoor flammable liquids cabinet as soon as it arrives is critically important. These cabinets are engineered to direct leaking or spilled chemicals into the lower compound (which acts as a liquid tight spill sump) — so the cabinet needs to be placed on a solid base that is completely level.
If your cabinet is not level it may be rendered non-compliant because:
- Shelving angles will be altered, and this affects the drainage system.
- Mechanisms in the self-closing doors may jam or not activate properly.
- Cabinet may become unstable and at risk of falling over.
REMEMBER: Once installed, don’t allow anyone to move the cabinet without permission from an authorised person (eg, HSE Manager, Safety Committee).
2. Loading practices
Next, train your workers (and their supervisors) to load the cabinet correctly. Essential practices include:
- Only placing Class 3 Flammable Liquids inside the cabinet.
- Never keeping ignition sources (eg, matches, candles, electrical appliances, electronics) inside the cabinet.
- Removing excess packaging materials and other combustibles before putting chemical containers inside the cabinet.
- Stacking containers neatly on shelves, and ensuring that tins, drums and containers don’t protrude or block the door closing mechanisms.
- Only placing closed containers (or containers fitted with a tap) inside the cabinet.
- Never placing more than 2 x drums (60 litres or more) in a stack.
- Ensuring only one drum (60 litres or more) is stored in the decanting (horizontal) position.
- Never allowing anyone to climb in the cabinet for any reason.
- Never placing (or storing) items in the lower spill compound.
REMEMBER: Flammable liquids cabinets are not designed for other chemical hazard classes, so don’t put corrosives, toxic substances, gas cylinders, oxidisers, explosives, or organic peroxides into the cabinet.
3. Self-closing doors
Flammable liquids cabinets must have self-closing doors that are close fitting, this keeps the cabinet sealed. These cabinets are specifically designed to:
- Create a barrier that protects the chemicals from external heat or fire.
- Prevent flammable vapours from escaping.
- Provide liquid tight spill containment.
Never allow your staff to prop open doors with sticks or wire as this can render the cabinet non-compliant. If you need to install latches to hold the doors open, they must be fitted with some type of sensor that releases automatically if temperatures rise above 80°C.
IMPORTANT: Please contact our Dangerous Goods specialists here at STOREMASTA if you have any concerns about the self-closing doors or need assistance reviewing your cabinet loading practices.
4. Cabinet capacity
The maximum load capacity of an indoor flammable liquid’s cabinet is clearly marked on the front. Your training and operational procedures should also explain the cabinet’s maximum capacity as overloading the cabinet can render the entire cabinet unsafe and non-compliant.
An overloaded cabinet may no longer be able to:
- Keep chemical leaks or spills completely inside the cabinet.
- Properly contain flammable vapours and fumes.
- Activate the automatic closing mechanisms on the doors.
IMPORTANT: The capacity of the spill containment sump is based on the largest container that can be stored in the cabinet, so make sure your workers know the size of the maximum allowable container.
5. Outside the cabinet
Flammable liquids cabinets arrive with mandatory safety signs and warning placards, these must remain clearly visible anytime the cabinet doors are closed. At the same time the exterior of cabinets should not become shelving for decanting activities, files and paperwork, or potential ignition sources.
To keep your flammables safe and compliant please ensure that you train your workers and contractors to:
- Put chemical containers away promptly and not left lying around near the cabinet.
- Only put containers that have their lids or seals in place into the cabinet.
- Keep the area surrounding the cabinet clear, and don’t place anything in front of the cabinet that may block the markings and signs.
- Never bring ignition sources (or carry out hot work) within 3 metres of the cabinet.
- Ensure that the area has sufficient lighting so that workers can clearly see the warning signs and correctly identify the chemicals they are using.
Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinets that have been manufactured according the specifications of Australian Standard AS1940:2017 are reliable risk control measures — provided they are stacked and loaded correctly. For more information about how to use and store flammable liquids safely indoors, please download our latest eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. Use it as the basis of your next risk assessment or safety training session. Download and read it today — it’s completely free.