Storing Aerosols Correctly: Aerosol Cages Vs Flammable Liquids Cabinets

Originally published November 16, 2021 12:24:33 AM

As a convenient way of storing and dispensing hazardous substances, aerosol cans are found in just about every workplace. However, as aerosols are classified as Class 2 Dangerous Goods, they must be stored safely and legally. But how do you do that when there are so few references to aerosols in either the Australian Dangerous Goods Code (ADG) and the relevant Australian Standards? In this blog, we’ll be highlighting some of the hazards that surround aerosol cans — based on real reports of workplace accidents and dangerous incidentsWe’ll be offering our advice on whether it’s best to store your aerosol cans in a dedicated aerosol store or a flammable liquids cabinet. 

What Are The Hazards Associated With Aerosol Cans? 

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the little aerosol cans that we see every day —  containing essential products such as paint, lacquers, cooking oils, fly spray, room fresheners or even deodorant — are actually classed as dangerous goods.   

shutterstock_1833044470While found in almost every workplace, aerosol cans are actually Class 2 Dangerous Goods.

Unlike other compressed gases, aerosols present a complex range of hazards due to the chemical properties of the substances stored inside. This includes hazards related to the pressure of the gas, the potential waste hazard, and the physiochemical properties of the actual canister (such as the dispensing equipment, metal body of the can etc).  

If you combine the chemical properties of aerosols with busy operations at a job site or workplace, you can find yourself dealing with a wide range of risks including explosions and human harm.  

Workplace accidents involving aerosols include: 

  • Staff using a can of spray paint worked near industrial machinery which overheated the can and caused it to explode in the worker’s hand 
  • An aerosol adhesive can exploded and burned a worker after it was left too close to a heat gun 
  • A can of whipped cream burst through an unopened storage crate and impacted a staff member 
  • An aerosol can of cooking oil exploded and caused injury to two commercial cooks after it was left on a hotplate 
  • Workers were burned after shaking a can of paint which had overheated and exploded 
  • An explosion occurred at a busy cafe (large front window blew out) after the chef left a can of cooking oil too close to gas jets

Risks associated with aerosols include the can overheating, rupturing, being impacted, dropped or shaken — which can all result in the Class 2 Dangerous Goods causing an explosion.

The environment in which the aerosols are kept is a major factor in chemical compliance and safety. For example, if an aerosol can of spray paint is kept in a temperature-controlled hardware store it has less of a risk of explosion than if it was being used in an outdoor environment by someone such as a paving machine operator who is marking a hot bitumen road.  

What are aerosol cans, and why are they dangerous Heat can affect the safety of aerosol cans, so staff must be trained about the risks involved with handling or storing aerosols.

A common risk that is often overlooked with aerosol usage is the potential waste hazard of aerosols. This is particularly true if the aerosol can is past its use-by-date or has a defective nozzle that won’t allow the hazardous contents to be completely emptied out. Placing aerosol cans in with regular refuse could present a fire and explosion risk. These risk areas should be included as a part of your next chemical risk assessment 

Flammable Liquids Stores 

Many workplaces follow the guidelines of Australian Standard AS1940:2017 - The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids and choose to store their aerosols in a flammable liquids cabinet 

The standard states that: 

Aerosols of Divisions 2.1 and 2.2 may be stored in a store for Class 3 dangerous goods if projectile protection (e.g. cages) is provided. 

Section 3.7, AS 1940:2017 

Class 3 Flammable storage cabinets are constructed specifically for the storage of flammable liquids — with Section 3.7 in the Australian Standards the only exception to the rule. 

To provide the risk control measures necessary for the safe storage of flammable liquids, safety cabinets must be constructed to provide: 

  • Heat protection – allowing a 10-minute window for evacuation or the use of firefighting equipment in the event of a workplace fire 
  • Vapour containment – providing an insulative shield to prohibit the spread of vapours into the workplace 
  • Spill containment – flammable cabinets are constructed with a spill containment sump to prevent chemical spills which may result in fire or explosion 

Staff using Flammable Cabinet

Your flammable cabinet is constructed to meet the requirements of AS 1940:2017 and provides heat protection, vapour containment and spill containment for your flammable liquids.

The Australian Standard AS 1940:2017 explains the construction requirements for flammable storage cabinets: 

4.9.2 Cabinet construction  

The following requirements apply:  

(a) 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. NOTE: This space may be either an air space or filled with non-combustible insulation.  

(b) Any gaps around the doors and into the space between the walls shall be sealed as far as is necessary to prevent the spread of flame or heat radiation.  

(c) The inner base of the cabinet shall form a liquid-tight compound at least 150 mm deep, and shall be designed to prevent the compound from being used as a storage space.  

(d) Any shelves shall be perforated to permit free air movement, and shall be capable of carrying the maximum possible load.  

(e) All leakage shall be directed into the lower compound.  

(f) All cabinet doors shall be self-closing, close-fitting and held shut automatically by catches at two or more points.  

(g) Where doors are equipped with a device to hold them open when necessary, they shall be released automatically as soon as the temperature exceeds a nominal 80°C.  

(h) The materials of any components that are critical to the cabinet’s structural integrity shall not melt at temperatures less than 850°C. Seals or gaskets are accepted, but avoid their use if their failure could affect the protective function of the cabinet.   

As per the Australian Standards above, flammable cabinets must be made with double-walled sheet steel, and a minimum of a 40mm gap between the walls. Shelving inside flammable storage cabinets is always perforated to allow the free movement of air. Each unit is fitted with a spill containment sump (150mm deep) to contain flammable liquid spills and leaks, therefore reducing the risk of fire and explosion. 

 

When using flammable liquids cabinets for the containment of aerosols, a key issue is the air-tight nature of the cabinet. Any gaps around the cabinet doors and into the walls are sealed to prevent the entry of flames and radiant heat. However, if an aerosol did explode, or it began to vent the substance held inside, these chemicals wouldn’t be able to dissipate in a flammable cabinet. 

Another design feature of the flammable cabinet that is unnecessary for the storage of aerosols is the spill containment sump. When you’re storing flammable liquids, it’s a safety essential — but there’s no reason to have a spill containment sump when you’re storing aerosol cans.  

Therefore, choosing a dedicated aerosol store to house your aerosol cans — instead of a flammable cabinet — is a more practicalefficient and cost-effective storage option. 

Aerosol Storage Cages 

One of the best things about dedicated aerosol cages is that they are specifically constructed so that you can store the cans loose — or within the original packing carton  (unlike the requirements regarding combustibles within a flammable liquids storage cabinet) 

Aerosol cages don’t waste space, weight or construction costs on a spill containment sump, as this risk control measure just isn’t required for the safe storage of aerosols.  

STOREMASTA Blog Image - 5 workplace accidents involving aerosol cansConstructed to meet the requirements of AS 4332:2004, your aerosol storage cage provides natural ventilation with a heavy-duty steel cage construction.

Aerosol cages are designed and manufactured in accordance with the Australian Standard AS 4332:2004 - The storage and handling of gases in cylinders. Therefore, the cages are constructed with perforated walls to meet the ventilation requirements of the standard. AS 4332:2004 also requires the aerosol cage to provide adequate projectile protection in the event of a workplace fire. 

Choosing an aerosol cage instead of a flammable liquids cabinet for the storage of your Class 2 Dangerous Goods is a superior option, as the aerosol cage doesn’t require the self-closing, tight-fitting doors of the flammable cabinet.  

IMPORTANT: We manufacture aerosol cages to meet the requirements of AS 4332:2004. Our range starts with a compact 12 can cage through to a large 625 can capacity. Each cabinet is manufactured from heavy-duty sheet steel and is finished in a high-build powder coat finish (anti-corrosion). Compliant aerosol cages also feature the relevant safety signage and warning placards.

How Are You Storing Aerosols In Your Business? 

Are you still unsure whether to store your aerosols in a flammable liquids cabinet or a dedicated aerosol cage? You can check out some of our other blogs about aerosols or look at our range of both flammable liquids cabinets and aerosol cages 

Your decision will ultimately depend on the unique operations of your workplace, which is why we highly recommend including aerosol can storage in your next risk assessment. If you need some help conducting your risk assessment, we have a handy guide that can help. Gas Cylinder Storage: compliance and safety requirements will help you apply a tested risk management methodology to the gas cylinders, aerosols and other Dangerous Goods held at your workplace or job site. Access your copy of our guide for free today. 

gas cylinder storage: Compliance and safety requirements

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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