6 problems with using indoor flammable storage cabinets outside

Aug 27, 2018 Posted by Walter Ingles

In recent years it has become increasingly common for people to use indoor dangerous goods storage cabinets to store flammable liquids in outdoor environments. However this dangerous goods storage practice is non-compliant and poses great safety and environmental risks.

Internal safety cabinets are designed for the storage of dangerous goods in indoor environments and as a result they don’t have the ability to withstands the corrosive nature of the outdoors. 

There are a number of reasons internal safety cabinets are unsuitable for use in outdoor environments - we’ve listed these below. 

1. Corrosion

A major problem with using indoor dangerous goods storage cabinets outside is their susceptibility to water damage.

As internal flammable liquids storage cabinets don’t have a cambered roof they tend to collect a lot of water on their roofs. After a few weeks this water will seep into the cabinet’s seams and corrode the steel. 

A hole will then form in the first skin of the cabinet, causing safety hazards and making it non-compliant with Australian hazardous goods storage regulations, which state that: 

The walls, floor, door and roof shall be of double-walled sheet steel construction, with a space of at least 40 mm between the walls.

AS1940-2017 (Guidelines for the Storage and Handling of Flammable and Combustible Liquids).

By creating these non-compliant holes in cabinets, corrosion allows dangerous goods to be contaminated, stolen or damaged, causing hazardous leakage.

Outdoor dangerous goods stores are built with cambered roofs to prevent corrosion from water buildup. 

2. Increased risk of fires and explosions

The second major problem with using indoor dangerous goods containers outside is an increased risk of fires and explosions. This is because indoor stores need mechanical ventilation using electricity and exhaust mounting - two things which aren’t practical to use outside.

If cabinets are not adequately ventilated, large quantities highly flammable and explosive vapours can build up inside them. As a result ventilation is essential for preventing fires and explosions.

Relocatable dangerous goods stores have natural ventilation, making them ideal for outdoor use.

3. Asphyxiation

For the above reasons, dangerous goods storage cabinets without natural ventilation can also cause fainting and asphyxiation in personnel. This happens when staff inhale large amounts of toxic fumes which have built up inside stores.

Using suitable outside storage cabinets is therefore imperative for OH&S. In order to minimise the production of toxic and flammable gasses it’s also vital to segregate dangerous goods by their hazard class. Find out more in our Dangerous Goods Segregation eBook.

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4. Cabinets toppling over

Preventing cabinets from toppling over is vital for minimising injury, chemical wastage, environmental pollution and equipment damage.

Dangerous goods cabinets positioned outside are usually exposed to increased wind and traffic. As a result outdoor stores need to be secured to the ground to prevent them from falling over.

However internal storage cabinets do not have provisions to be secured to the ground. On the other hand, relocatable dangerous goods containers are designed with holes in their base, so they can be easily fastened to the ground.

Relocatable cabinets also have heavy, wide base plates, decreasing their chance of toppling over when faced with heavy winds. This is very different to indoor dangerous goods cabinets, which have a long, narrow footprint and no base plates.

5. Environmental pollution

As outdoor storage cabinets are closer to the environment than internal stores, they threaten to damage it easily if not used correctly. Toxic fumes and chemical spillage can destroy waterways, cause air pollution and kill animal life.

As a result it’s important to ensure dangerous goods storage cabinets used outside are securely installed, chemicals are segregated by class and stores are adequately ventilated.

6. Theft

Storing dangerous goods outside exposes them to a greater risk of theft. For this reason it is vital to use relocatable cabinets which won’t corrode and expose goods to theft.

Unlike indoor dangerous goods stores, relocatable cabinets are manufactured from heavy duty steel and they have locks to prevent break ins.

Next steps

If you’re in need of new outdoor dangerous goods storage containers, take a look at our range of premium relocatable stores.

And for more information on how to store dangerous goods outdoors, download our free checklist. Click the image below to get started.👇 

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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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