When is a flammable storage cabinet required?

Mar 6, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

If your organisation uses flammable liquids, I would have no doubt that you would be seeking to store them in a way that poses the least amount of risk upon the people, property and environment of your organisation. To achieve minimal risk, there are a number of practices that can be implemented. One thing that can be done to decrease the risks associated with flammable liquids is to store them in a complaint flammable cabinet. When considering the use of a safety cabinet for the storage of flammable liquids, there is a questions that is often asked. The question is:

When is a flammable storage cabinet required?

There is no straight forward answer to this question, however there are certain situations where you should always use a flammable storage cabinet. These situations are outlined below.  

Quantities of flammable liquids exceeding minor storage

The Australian Standard that sets out the storage requirements for flammable liquids is AS1940-2017 - The storage and handling of flammable liquids. This standard interprets that when commercial buildings are storing more than 10L of flammable liquids of packing group I or II in 50m2 of floor space, it is no longer classed as minor storage.

For flammable liquids of packing group III, it is no longer classed as minor storage when more than 25L is stored per 50m2 of floor space.

When the quantity of flammable liquids is not classed as minor storage, flammable liquids must be stored in full conformance to the specifications outlined in section 3 and 4 of AS1940-2017.

Therefore if you are storing more flammable liquids than the quantities outlined above, it is no longer classed as minor storage and you will have to store your flammable liquids in a compliant flammable storage cabinet. Section 4 of AS1940 outlines the requirements for storing flammable liquids indoors. One complaint and practical option is a flammable storage cabinet.

Ignition sources

If your workplace has a number of potential ignition sources such as grinding sparks, powerpoints or hot objects, it’s a good practice to store all your flammable liquids in a flammable storage cabinet. It is important to note that if your flammable liquids are stored in a flammable storage cabinet, the cabinet must still be separated from ignition sources by at least 3 meters. Even though flammable liquids storage cabinets have a dual skinned insulated construction, flammable vapours will leak from the cabinet when the doors are opened. If these vapours come into contact with ignition sources they will ignite and cause a severe fire. Therefore, if your organisation uses flammable liquids such as paints and solvents, it’s important to store these substances in a flammable storage cabinet and isolate it from ignition sources.

Incompatible substances

Another situation that merits the use of a flammable storage cabinet is when flammable liquids are stored with other incompatible classes of dangerous goods. When other classes of dangerous goods are mixed or brought into contact with flammable liquids, they have the potential to increase risk to people, property and the environment. In some cases the mixing of other classes of dangerous goods with flammable liquids can cause violent chemical reactions. To mitigate the risk of violent chemical reactions, incompatible classes of dangerous goods must be safely segregated. This can be done by separating them by the distances outlined in the dangerous goods segregation chart.

Download a FREE Dangerous Goods Segregation Chart

If you don’t have the space available to segregate dangerous goods according to the distances outlined in the segregation chart, they can be safely segregated by storing each class in separate safety cabinets. Safety cabinets have insulated walls and sealed spill containment sumps which allows flammable liquids to be safely segregated from other incompatible classes of dangerous goods.

High concentration of flammable vapours

Another situation that merits the use of a flammable liquids storage cabinet is when the flammable liquids used in your workplace release a lot of flammable vapours. High concentrations of flammable vapours can have adverse effects on your health. When inhaled, flammable vapours can cause intoxication and asphyxiation. If they are not controlled, flammable vapours can also come into contact with ignition sources and cause severe fires that can harm people and damage property.

If you have flammable liquids in the workplace and their vapours exceed the maximum legal concentrations outlined in the workplace exposure standards, you will need to implement a control to reduce the concentration of these vapours. This can be done by storing all your flammable liquids in a flammable safety cabinet that has a ventilation system.  

Click here to download our FREE eBook on how to ventilate dangerous goods  storage cabinets

Next Steps

If your organisation uses flammable liquids, it is very important that you assess the situation and determine if a flammable storage cabinet is required to minimise the risks associated with flammable liquids. The factors outlined above will allow you to determine if a flammable storage cabinet will be required for the storage of flammable liquids in your workplace.  For more information on how to assess and control the risks associated with flammable liquids, download our FREE eBook by clicking on the image below.

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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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