Does this seem like a trick question? It isn’t. Despite having a big red sign on the front of the cabinet that says Class 3 Flammable Liquids, you would be amazed at how many times we visit work sites and discover acid, poison, paintbrushes, and petrol all in the same cabinet. If your workers have been putting anything but flammable or combustible liquids into your flammable liquids cabinet, this blog is for you.
Flammable and combustible liquids
Your flammable liquids cabinet is designed to safely contain Class 3 Flammable Liquids and their vapours. The cabinets have a double-walled sheet steel construction and tight-fitting doors that close automatically. This creates a heat barrier that can withstand temperatures of at least 850°C as well as provide liquid tight spill protection.
Any highly flammable or combustible liquids may be stored inside the cabinet. This includes (but is not limited to) petrol, diesel, resins, enamel paints and thinners, ethanol, kerosene, acetone, adhesives, fuel oil, heating oils, lube oil, certain insecticides and pesticides.
When storing chemicals insides cabinets pay attention to the following essential requirements:
1. Drums and large containers
There are specific requirements under Australian Safety Standards for storing drums with a capacity greater than 60 litres.
- Drums (more than 60 litres) cannot be placed in stacks of more than 2.
- Only one drum (more than 60 litres) is permitted to be stored in the decanting position (horizontal).
2. Lids and seals
Australian Safety Standards only permit closed packages, containers with lids in place, or containers fitted with a tap inside flammable liquids cabinets. Always check the integrity of containers (and their lids) before placing inside the cabinet, wiping down exterior surfaces to remove chemical residues.
3. Load capacity
Every flammable liquids cabinet has the maximum load capacity clearly marked on the front the cabinet. Never overload the cabinet as this can negate its spill containment compliance and fire safety rating.
NOTE: According to Australian Standard AS1940:2017, aerosol cans may be placed in flammable liquids cabinets but only if the cabinet has sufficient projectile protection. We recommend that aerosols be stored in a dedicated aerosol cage that has reinforced walls and has ventilation directed suited to flammable gases.
Construction specifications for flammable liquids cabinets are not necessarily suited to other classes of Dangerous Goods. For example:
- Oxidisers — oxidisers are incompatible with flammable liquids and they should never be stored together. At the same time oxidisers need a cabinet with doors that will release if pressure builds up inside the cabinet.
- Organic peroxides — flammable liquids and organic peroxides are not compatible and should be isolated from each other. Cabinets for organic peroxides needs additional insulation and ventilation.
- Toxic substances — flammable liquids and Class 6 Toxics should be kept apart. Toxic substances must be stored in cabinets that can be fully locked.
- Corrosives — Class 8 Corrosives and flammable liquids should be kept apart. Safety cabinets for corrosive substances need corrosion free materials or a special protective coating.
- Class 4 Dangerous Goods — Class 4 substances need safety cabinets with doors that will release if pressure builds up inside the cabinet. They also have different ventilation requirements.
IMPORTANT: Always check for incompatibilities and segregation distances on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for every chemical and hazardous substance you hold onsite. If working space is an issue talk to our Dangerous Goods team who can help you manage all Classes of Dangerous Goods more efficiently.
It is a requirement of Australian Standard AS1940:2017 –- The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids that ignition sources are not to be within 3 metres of a flammable liquid’s cabinet. What this means is you cannot:
- Put ignition sources inside the cabinet. Eg, matches, lighters, electronic gadgets.
- Carry out any work activities near the cabinet that could generate heat, sparks, flames, or static discharge. Eg, welding, grinding, cutting.
- Bring any item that produces sparks, flames, or static discharge near the cabinet.
- Install the cabinet near powerpoints, light switches, and electrical appliances that could discharge and create a spark.
Don’t waste the space inside your flammable liquids cabinet by storing paintbrushes, excess packaging (stretch-wrap, cardboard cartons), PPE, cleaning rags and other combustibles. All these items are better stored in general purpose storage or a dedicated PPE cabinet.
REMEMBER: STOREMASTA also manufacture a range of general purpose storage equipment — from lifting boxes to lockers. Having sufficient storage equipment for sundry items discourages workers from wasting valuable space inside your high-tech flammable liquid’s cabinets.
Don’t compromise the integrity and compliance of your flammable liquids cabinet by using it to store incompatible substances, ignition sources, and combustibles. For more information about using a flammable liquids cabinet correctly (and safely) please download our latest eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. It has all the information you need to carry out a risk assessment on your chemical stores as well as select a Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinet. Download and read it now, it’s completely free: