Installing a flammable liquids cabinet in the warehouse 

Aug 4, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

Warehouses are often hazardous working environments and great care must be taken if you decide to install a flammable liquids cabinet in an area that may already contain incompatible substances, ignition sources and frequent vehicular traffic. This blog presents some key considerations when installing a safety cabinet for your flammable liquids in the warehouse. 

Ignition sources 

When storing any flammable substance, your first consideration will always be — how can the chemicals ignite and cause a fire or explosion? In the warehouse, there can be a wide range of potential ignition sources in the area, as well as large quantities of combustible materials.  Even if you have installed your cabinet at least 3 metres from machinery, electrical equipment and power points — sometimes site visitors and workers from other areas unknowingly bring ignition sources into the immediate vicinity of the cabinet. 

Ignitions sources in the warehouse can include: 

  • Naked flames - blow torches, welding flames, cigarette lighters, pilot lights. 
  • Hot surfaces - burning cigarettes, soldering irons, hot slag, electric lamps. 
  • Friction - jamming materials, piston movements, bearings. 
  • Electrical current - discharge from electric sockets and switches, faulty lights, electric motors, cable breaks. 
  • Static Electricity - liquid flow in pipelines, discharge from electronic equipment (eg, thermostats, keyless remotes, mobiles), rubbing of plastic or rubber. 

WAREHOUSE BEST PRACTICE: 

  • Install flammable liquids cabinets (and all chemical stores) in a location that is well-lit and ensure that all warning signage is obvious and visible to anyone entering the area. 
  • Provide a proper safety induction to all workers, contractors and site visitors before being allowed to access the area. 
  • Empower warehouse managers and supervisors to prevent and halt unsafe work practices (eg welding, hot work, vehicular repairs in front of flammable liquids cabinets) 
  • Conduct regular tool-box talks and pre-shift safety forums that focus on hazard awareness, fire prevention and chemical storage. 
  • Implement consistent housekeeping practices that include putting away chemicals after use, never overloading safety cabinets, cleaning up leaks and spills immediately, and reducing the amount of combustible materials left (or stored) in and around your flammable liquid storage cabinets. 

 

Impact protection 

Warehouses are high activity areas where loading, unloading, intake and despatch are occurring all the time. Ensure your flammable liquid storage cabinets are protected from being impacted by: 

  • Forklifts being driven too fast or operated incorrectly. 
  • Delivery drivers (visiting the site for the first time) that bring their vans into the wrong area. 
  • Mishaps in trucks and company cars. 

But it isn’t just vehicles that create impact hazards, many warehouses utilise multi-story racking and shelves that create a risk of sliding or collapse.  Falling items can also impact your safety cabinets. 

WAREHOUSE BEST PRACTICE: 

  • Create fences, bollards or physical barriers around your flammable liquids cabinets to protect from vehicular impact. 
  • Don’t install cabinets below a mezzanine floor or anywhere tools, implements of machinery could fall from height. 
  • Protect cabinets during overhead repairs, construction and maintenance — or consider temporarily relocating the cabinet until the repair work is finalised. 
  • Enforce speed limits in the intake area, loading dock and yard. 
  • Don’t allow unlicensed drivers to operate forklifts and other vehicles. 

Incompatible substances 

Substances, chemicals and other Dangerous Goods that are incompatible with Class 3 Flammable Liquids are often present in the warehouse. Consideration should be given to: 

  • Pesticide spraying and storage. 
  • Toxic and corrosive substances. 
  • Compressed gases in cylinders. 

WAREHOUSE BEST PRACTICE: 

  • Keep larger quantities of flammable liquids in dedicated chemical stores outside. 
  • Correctly segregate chemicals within their hazard classes according to Australian Safety Standards and the WHS Regulations. 
  • Store gas cylinders in a compliant gas bottle cage outside when not being used. 

Safety showers, eyewash and SDSs 

Many flammable liquids are also serious skin and eye irritants and can create permanent injury, blindness, or even death if workers were immersed, splashed, or sprayed with the chemicals. Safety showers and eyewash should be installed between 2-10 metres of the cabinet, but an injured worker should able to reach the emergency equipment within 10 seconds of injury. 

WAREHOUSE BEST PRACTICE: 

  • Carry out a risk assessment on each of the chemicals and ensure you (and the workers in the warehouse) understand the health and physical hazards associated with each substance. 
  • Keep Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for each chemical stored inside the cabinet in a protective document box, then attach to the exterior. 
  • Ensure there are no physical obstructions between the flammable liquid’s cabinet and the emergency decontamination station (eg, shower, drench hose, eyewash). 

Next steps

Even if you aren’t installing a flammable liquids cabinet in the warehouse, we recommend downloading our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. We walk you through all the essential considerations when choosing a safety cabinet for your flammable liquids — then ensuring it remains effective, fit-for-purpose and compliant. 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 Adviser. He loves helping businesses reduce the risk that Dangerous Goods pose upon their employees, property and the environment through safe and compliant dangerous goods storage solutions.

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