Training Staff and Contractors in Flammable Liquids Safety

Originally published October 28, 2021 10:52:45 PM

If your organisation carries any type of Class 3 Dangerous Goods, it’s vital that your staff and contractors receive comprehensive flammable liquids safety training. Without fully understanding how to properly handle and store flammable liquids, your staff and contractors could be putting themselves, your business and the community at risk.  

The Importance Of Flammable Liquids Safety

A worker was transferring a flammable liquid (RC-250) from a tank into his truck, but when he’d finished dispensing the fuel noticed the transfer line had become stuck because of the cold outdoor temperature. He decided to use a propane blow torch to unfreeze the line, but as soon as the torch was lit, the vapours from the flammable liquid ignited and exploded. The worker died from burns he suffered during the explosion. 

This horrible accident occurred in the USA, and it’s a real reminder of just how important it is to make sure staff fully understanding the chemical properties of flammable liquids.

Oxygen Cylinder Explosions Flammable liquids can easily ignite and explode, causing fatalities, human harm, property damage and environmental pollution.

Staff training is an essential requirement of the Australian Standard AS 1940:2017 - The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquidsWithout adequate training, your workplace could be at risk of fire, explosion and human harm. You’ll also be breaching WHS Regulations, which could result in severe penalties or legal action. 

Staff, contractors and other personnel who may encounter flammable and combustible liquids at your worksite all require training in order to maintain safety and compliance.  

Let’s take a closer look at how you can implement a flammable liquids safety training plan for the people in your own business.

Training Employees and Site Personnel

All staff working with flammable liquids must receive formal training on the risks and hazards of working with flammable liquids. 

Because flammable and combustible liquids are found in just about every workplace, they  may not be treated with the respect they deserve. Many accidents (like the man using a blowtorch on a fuel transfer line) occur because workers don’t fully understand the flash point of the flammable liquids they are using. 

PaintFlammable liquids appear in just about every workplace, but they are dangerous and volatile substances which must be handled and stored with the utmost care.

The content of the training delivered to your employees and site personnel will depend on: 

  • the duties they are performing; 
  • whether they are directly handling Class 3 Flammable Liquids;  
  • or just working in areas where flammables are stored

At the very least, your team must understand how to correctly identify Dangerous Goods and understand their chemical properties. This can be achieved by first referencing the applicable Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) for each chemical.

Training content should also cover important topics including: 

  • Relevant safety regulations (personal responsibilities, controlling ignition sources, restricted areas, site housekeeping and upkeep) 
  • Safe handling procedures (preparing a work area, earthing and bonding, liquid dispensing, spill response, and waste removal) 
  • Chemical properties of the flammable liquids (flash points and explosion limits) 
  • First aid procedures (location of first aid stations, first aid measures including how to use safety showers and eyewash facilities) 
  • Mandatory PPE (where it is stored, how to use it, how to keep it clean and properly maintained) 
  • Emergency procedures (emergency venting, shut-offs, fire and explosion responses, location of manifest of hazardous chemicals) 
  • Evacuation drills and other simulated emergency exercises

IMPORTANT: The list above identifies some of the training requirements under AS 1940:2017 - The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids, but always conduct your own risk assessment to determine the training required to ensure your staff can safely handle flammable liquids as well as respond to an emergency. 

Training Contractors  

The Australian Standard requires that all contractors and their staff must receive training appropriate to the work they are carrying out onsite — and the areas they will be accessing.  

Your safety and induction training for contractors and their staff must include: 

1. Safety Rules Of The Site

Safety rules that apply to everyone onsite (eg, non smoking areas, restricted access points, ignition controls, speed limits) as well as rules specific to the tasks being performed by the contractors (eg, low voltage tools, visitor registration, protective clothing). 

2. Conditions and Obligations Of Work Permits 

If any work permits are in place (eg, confined space entry), contractors must be aware of the full conditions of the permit and their personal responsibilities and obligations.

3. Site Hazards 

Training should include details on any hazards that are likely to be encountered at your worksite. This doesn’t just refer to Class 3 Flammable Liquids, but it relates to any hazardous chemicals or dangerous goods that may affect the health and safety of personnel. 

4. Emergency Procedures 

Everyone onsite needs to know what to do in an emergency, whether it’s a fire, explosion, chemical spill or natural disaster. This includes training your site contractors and their staff in emergency procedures. The training would include the location of first aid stations, how to activate safety showers and eyewash facilities, emergency PPE (breathing apparatus, face masks), fire protection equipment, muster points, and evacuation areas. 

Training Staff and Contractors in Flammable Liquids SafetyYour organisation must also provide your team, as well as any contractors and their staffwith the appropriate flammable liquids safety training.

REMEMBER: Training for contractors need only relate to the actual tasks they will be performing while onsite. For example, a delivery driver transferring fuel from their truck to a bulk tank might be notified of hazards like gas cylinder stores and other Dangerous Goods held onsite, however, they may not need to know the rules and layout of the packaging warehouse. 

Refresher Training For Staff And Contractors

Refresher training is an essential requirement of the Standard to ensure that staff and contractors maintain competence in safety procedures.  

Because job sites change, new chemicals are introduced, flammable liquids are bought from different suppliers, and flammable storage cabinets are updated as new technologies emergeit’s not enough to deliver a 30-minute safety induction — and then expect duties to be perfectly carried out for years to come. 

DG Training Email  BannerRefresher training is essential in keeping staff up-to-date with any changes that may have occurred at your worksite.

In addition to the original staff training sessions, refresher training should occur whenever: 

  • Workers or contractors are observed not to be following safety procedures 
  • An accident or dangerous incident occurs 
  • Workers have spent significant time away from their normal duties (long service leave, sickness, site transfer) 
  • Changes are made to operating procedures or new flammable liquids are introduced to the site

IMPORTANT: You must keep permanent records of staff training including refresher sessions and updates, as well as the details of emergency and evacuation drills. These records will also help you to schedule refresher training. 

Developing A Flammable Liquids Safety Training Program 

Would you like more information about how to control risks associated with the flammable liquids used and held at your worksite? Then why not download our free eBookHow to Reduce the Risk of Flammable Liquids in the Workplace will lead you step-by-step through the risk management process and explain how it applies to the requirements of AS 1940:2017 - The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. Download your copy for free today by simply clicking on the below image.  New call-to-action

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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