When Is A Flammable Storage Cabinet Required?

Does your business use Class 3 Flammable Liquids? Then you understand just how important it is to find a storage solution that reduces the serious risks that these chemicals pose. While there are many practices that you can implement in your workplace to reduce risk, a key risk control measure that you can easily put in place is a compliant flammable cabinet. And that brings us to the next question that is often asked by our customers, and that is: ‘When is a flammable storage cabinet required?’ 

While there’s no simple, straightforward answer for this commonly asked question, there are some specific workplace situations where you should use a flammable storage cabinet. In this blog, we’ll look at some examples of workplace situations where you would need to install a flammable cabinet. If you recognise a similar situation in your own workplace, it’s a good idea to consider the benefits of installing a flammable storage cabinet. 

Let’s get started. 

Quantities Of Flammable Liquids Exceeding Minor Storage 

Are you carrying flammable liquids that are classed as minor storage — or do they exceed the minor storage requirements?  

According to the Australian Standard AS 1940-2017, you must first determine the quantities and packing group of the flammable chemicals that you’re carrying before you can understand your storage requirements. 

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If your flammable liquid quantities are greater than those classed as minor storage, you may need to consider installing a flammable cabinet.

If your quantities of flammable liquids are classes as ‘minor storage’, then they fall under specific requirements — with larger volumes of flammable liquids being subject to different storage regulations. 

AS 1940:2017 - The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids, explains: 

Flammable Liquids of Packing Group 1 or II (PG1 or PGII) – If commercial buildings are storing more than 10L of flammable liquids in 50m2 of floor space, it is no longer classed as minor storage.  

Flammable Liquids of Packing Group III (PGIII) – When a commercial building stores more than 25L per 50m2 of floor space, it is not classed as minor storage. 

If your business is storing more Class 3 Flammable Liquids than the quantities that we’ve outlined above, your stores aren’t classed as minor storage. Your flammables must be stored in full conformance to the specifications outlined in Section 3 General Requirements and Section 4 Package Storage and Handling Areas of AS 1940:2017.  

Section 4.2 of the standard lists the various ways in which you can safely store your flammable liquids. And one of those storage methods is by keeping your Class 3 Dangerous Goods inside a compliant flammable storage cabinet 

Ignition Sources 

If your workplace has potential ignition sources such as grinding sparks, open flames or hot objects, it’s a good idea to store all your flammable liquids in a flammable storage cabinet. This provides protection for your stored flammables — and minimises the risk of flammable vapours sparking a blaze if they come close to an ignition source. 

firefighters-battling-blazeDoes your workplace have a number of ignition sources? A flammable liquids cabinet can reduce the risk of fire and explosion. 

While flammable storage cabinets are made from dual-skinned steel for superior protection, it’s still vital that you separate your cabinet from any workplace ignition sources.

Flammable vapours can leak from your cabinet when the doors are open. And if these  hazardous vapours escape into your workplace and meet an ignition source, they will cause a workplace fire or explosion. 

Whether it’s electrical equipment, tools or even a stove in the lunchroom, there are many everyday items that can be classed as an ignition source. To keep your flammable liquids from igniting, make sure you place your flammable cabinet at least 3 metres away from any potential sources of ignition. 

 

For example, if your workshop regularly uses flammable liquids such as paints and solvents, you must store these in your flammable liquids cabinet. You must also make sure that your cabinet is correctly installed in a location that’s isolated from ignition sources in your workplace, such as power points or welding tools. 

Incompatible Substances 

Are you concerned that your flammable liquids may come into contact with incompatible substances? 

A key indication that your workplace requires a safety cabinet is if your flammable liquids are stored with — or close to — 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 in your workplace.  

In some cases, violent chemical reactions can occur if other classes of dangerous goods are mixed with flammable liquids.  

Flammable Liquid Cabinets -A flammable cabinet can provide segregation for incompatible classes of dangerous goods.

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 below.  

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So, you don’t have the floorspace available to properly segregate dangerous goods? Installing a safety cabinet is another option that allows for the safe segregation of Class 3 Flammable Liquids. 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 chemicals used in your workplace release a lot of flammable vapours.  

High concentrations of flammable vapours can result in adverse health effects such as causing intoxication and asphyxiation if inhaled by unsuspecting workers.  

If flammable vapours are not controlled in the workplace, they can quickly travel out of the storage area and potentially meet an ignition source. This, of course, can result in fires or explosions that have the potential to harm your staff and destroy your property, vehicles and the surrounding environment.  

If you have Class 3 Dangerous Goods in the workplace — and their vapours exceed the maximum legal concentrations outlined in the workplace exposure standards — you’re legally required to implement a control measure to reduce the vapour concentrations. 

Minimising the hazardous vapours in your workplace can be achieved by storing all your flammable liquids in a flammable safety cabinet that has a mechanical ventilation system. Your ventilation system should safely disperse hazardous vapours so your workplace air quality meets the legal airborne concentration limits. 

Ventilation requirements for dangerous goods storage cabinets.

Do You Need A Flammable Storage Cabinet? 

We hope we’ve given you a clearer idea of some workplace circumstances that may require the installation of a Class 3 Flammable Liquids storage cabinet. If you’re one of the thousands of Australian businesses that uses flammable liquids regularly, it’s vital that you accurately assess your workplace situation to see if you need a flammable storage cabinet.  

Remember, a compliant cabinet that’s manufactured to meet AS 1940:2017 requirements is equipped with design and construction features that will reduce the hazards associated with flammable liquids storage. Would you like to know more about how to assess and control the risks at your workplace? Our eBook, How To Reduce The Risk Of Flammable Liquids In The Workplace, takes you through proven risk control measures and outlines our easy-to-understand 4-STEP methodology, IDENTIFY – ASSESS – CONTROL - SUSTAIN. Just click on the below image to access our eBook today.  

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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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