With a team of Field Auditors who visit workplaces across the country, you can guarantee that we’ve seen some strange (and often dangerous) flammable liquids storage practices. From containers of flammable liquids left on the ground next to the safety cabinet (because the cabinet was full!) to piles of combustibles and non-hazardous substances stacked in the cabinet, you’d be shocked to learn how some chemical safety cabinets are being used. To clear up this important chemical storage issue, we’ve created this blog to help you gain a better understanding of the features of a flammable liquids safety cabinet. We’ll explain how flammable liquids should be stored to maintain safety and compliance. We’ll also be detailing how you should be storing other essential items at your workplace, such as PPE and Safety Data Sheets.
REMEMBER: It’s a requirement of Section 363 of Australian WHS Regulations to ensure that any system installed at the workplace for storing hazardous chemicals (eg, safety cabinets) is only used for the purpose for which it was designed and manufactured (eg, storing flammable liquids).
Introduction To Flammable Liquids Storage
As you may already be aware, when you’re dealing with the safe storage of Class 3 Flammable Liquids, the best reference you can utilise is AS 1940:2017 – The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. For businesses that are keeping their flammable liquids indoors, the best (and arguably the most popular) option for storage is a compliant chemical safety cabinet that meets the requirements set out in the Standard.
The first step in safe flammable liquids storage is selecting a compliant flammable cabinet.
The first factor you should consider when assessing your Dangerous Goods storage needs is if your cabinet meets all the construction requirements of AS 1940:2017.
Compliant cabinets are specifically designed and manufactured to provide effective risk control measures for businesses that must store these volatile, and potentially dangerous, flammable liquids.
Some key risks associated with the storage of flammable liquids include:
- Fire – caused by the ignition of flammable vapours
- Flashback – which can travel quickly throughout a business
- Explosion – devastating explosions can occur if vapours ignite
- Ashypxiation – staff, supervisors or contractors may be harmed when handling and storing flammable liquids
- Human harm – spills, splashed chemicals and hazardous vapours may affect the eyes, skin and respiratory system
- Environmental contamination – flammable liquids can be toxic and harmful to the natural environment
What Are The Features Of A Compliant Flammable Liquids Cabinet?
There are many construction features for indoor flammable cabinets that are listed in the Standard. It also goes on to detail requirements regarding cabinet location, signage and markings, storage and the exclusion of ignition sources.
It’s important to be familiar with all of these requirements if you are to successfully select, use and maintain your flammable cabinet.
Refer to the Australian Standards to see the full requirements for the construction of flammable liquids storage cabinets.
In Section 4.9.2 of AS1940:2017, it explains the construction features for a flammable cabinet. These include:
- A double-walled sheet steel construction for the cabinet walls, floor, door and roof.
- There must be a thermic barrier, of at least 40 mm, between the cabinet walls.
- Gaps around cabinet doors and into the space between walls must be sealed.
- Shelving must be perforated.
- Shelving must also be capable of carrying the maximum load.
- Any chemical leaks must be directed into the lower spill containment compound.
- The inner base must form a liquid-tight spill containment compound which is at least 150 mm deep.
- The spill containment area must not be used as a storage space.
- The cabinet doors must be self-closing and close-fitting.
- Doors must be held shut automatically by catches (at 2 or more points).
- If your business requires the doors to have a device which holds them open, it must automatically release if temperatures exceed 80°C.
- Components that assist with structural integrity must not melt at temperatures below 850°C.
These features are necessary to reduce the many risks associated with flammable liquids including chemical spills, fire and hazardous vapour emissions.
What Shouldn’t Be Kept In A Flammable Cabinet
As we’ve explained, this cabinet is a purpose-build, high-tech piece of chemical safety equipment — so you don’t want to fill the cabinet with PPE, Safety Data Sheets, cardboard packaging, rags, paintbrushes or cleaning equipment.
Ensure that your flammable liquids storage cabinet maintains compliance by following the storage, stacking and loading guidelines.
To ensure efficiency in your workplace, and to maximise your investment in Dangerous Goods storage, please make sure that you adhere to the following suggestions:
- Process the chemical delivery order as quickly as possible and place the flammable liquids immediately inside the flammable cabinet. place the stock immediately into the flammable cabinet.
- Take note of the cabinet’s capacity rating and make sure it’s not loaded to capacity.
- Stack drums, tins and containers in a way that doesn’t interfere with the door closing mechanisms or spill compound.
- Ensure that only flammable or combustible liquids are stored in the cabinet.
- Take care to ensure that ignition sources, such as electronic gadgets, lighting, matches, lighters etc, are never placed inside (or close to) the flammable cabinet.
Where Should You Store Personal Protective Equipment?
Workers who decant or handle flammable liquids require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This is to protect workers’ eyes, face, hands, ears, feet, — and other parts of the body from being splashed or exposed to hazardous chemicals.
Naturally, your staff need their PPE and protective clothing to be on hand as they carry out their duties. However, you should never store PPE inside the flammable liquids cabinet.
PPE, clothing, first aid kits, and other safety gear is best stored in a dedicated PPE cabinet. Not only is a PPE cabinet the most efficient and safest option for PPE storage, it also allows your flammable cabinet to do its job — which is reducing the risk of human harm posed to your workers.
We manufacture PPE storage cabinets from heavy duty sheet steel which is finished with a high build powder coat. This coating protects the cabinet, as well as the valuable contents, from water, dust and corrosion.
By storing your PPE in a dedicated cabinet, you’re protecting your personal protective equipment and making it easier for your staff to access their safety gear.
PPE cabinets come in a range of sizes to suit any worksite:
- X-Large double-door 1795 x 920 x 476 (4 storage levels)
- Tall single-door 1192 x 545 x 375 (3 storage levels)
- Wide double-door 1192 x 1162 x 375 (3 storage levels)
- Medium single-door 1492 x 545 x 375 (3 storage levels)
- Small single-door 702 x 546 x 375 (3 storage levels)
STOREMASTA PPE storage cabinets come equipped with the appropriate safety signage and feature key lockable L-handles to provide extra security for stored chemicals.
How Should You Store Safety Data Sheets (SDSs)?
It’s a requirement of Section 346 of Australian WHS Regulations to keep a Register of Hazardous Chemicals that’s immediately accessible to anyone who uses (or is exposed to) the chemicals. The Register is a list of chemical names as well as the Safety Data Sheets for each of the stored substances.
The purpose of the Register is to have critical safety, storage and first aid information on hand — if workers need to act quickly responding to a spill, dangerous reaction or exposure injury. Therefore, the Register must be located somewhere that is easily accessible to workers, but secure enough so the information is always up-to-date and intact.
It’s good work practice to have a master list that contains the names and Safety Data Sheets of every hazardous chemical and substance onsite. You can then create smaller Registers that only contains the information relating to satellite clusters or aggregate quantities of hazardous chemicals.
You can keep your SDS and Register of Hazardous Chemicals in a sturdy document box, attached to your cabinet.
In line with this practice, we recommend creating a smaller Register for each flammable liquids cabinet (or aggregate quantity). This can then be placed in a purpose-built Document Box for staff and emergency services to access.
Our document boxes offer protection for your document and are made from durable, corrosive-resistant materials. They are designed to keep the Register and SDSs free from dust, dirt and water. You can secure your document box to your flammable liquids cabinet, for ease of access.
IMPORTANT: don’t keep you Register of Hazardous Chemicals inside the Flammable Liquids cabinet. You need the data to be immediately available to workers in an emergency, plus the box and the documents are combustible. Don’t waste valuable storage space on combustibles and non-hazardous materials.
How Is Your Workplace Storing Flammable Liquids, PPE and SDSs?
Thanks for reading our blog on the safe storage of flammable liquids, PPE and SDSs. We hope you now have a better understanding of what to do — and what not to do — with your flammable cabinet. If you’re interested in learning more about flammable liquids storage, we have collated some critical information in an easy-to-read eBook. Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors is filled with you all the tools you need to carry out a risk assessment on your Class 3 liquids storage areas. This eBook includes advice on storage options including how close your cabinets and stores should be to other incompatible materials and substances. You can access our eBook for free today by clicking on the link below.