Why do I need a flammable liquids cabinet? 

Oct 8, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

Can’t I just put my Class 3 Flammables on a shelf or pallet? 

Class 3 Flammable Liquids are Dangerous Goods and are highly flammable, explosive (at the right concentration levels), and capable of auto-igniting (ie, catching fire without a spark, flame, or match). In this blog we’ll be outlining 5 key reasons why your Class 3 Flammable Liquids should be stored in a safety cabinet that has been manufactured to Australian Standard AS1940:2017 –- The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. 

IMPORTANT: While there is no legal directive (per se) to use a flammable liquids cabinet, storing your chemicals inside one is a known hazard control measure that will help you meet specific requirements under the WHS Regulations and Environmental Protection laws. 


1. Fire buffer

Safety cabinets that are purpose-built for Class 3 Flammable Liquids are specifically designed to create a fire buffer — this works in two ways. 

  1. The cabinet is liquid tight with close fitting doors. This keeps flammable vapours fully contained in the cabinet, and they are isolated from ignition sources. 
  2. The construction materials and componentry of the cabinets can withstand heat of up to 850°C. This means the cabinet can last about 10 minutes before heat and flames penetrate the flammables stored inside. A 10-minute fire buffer gives people time to activate fire alarms and protection systems, contact emergency services and evacuate the area. 

REMEMBER: It is important to remember that the fire buffer will only work if the cabinet is used correctly — ie, installed on a level surface, only flammable liquids stored inside, loaded within the approved capacity rating, the doors are kept closed, and nothing placed in the lower spill compound. 


2. Spill containment

Section 357 of the WHS Regulations requires all businesses who carry hazardous chemicals to have a reliable way of containing and managing chemical spills — as well as the resulting effluent. Class 3 Flammable Liquids Cabinets have a liquid tight spill sump and closed ventilation to ensure that all liquids and vapours are fully contained within the cabinet. 

Storing your Class 3 Flammable Liquids inside an appropriately sized safety cabinet is one of the safest ways to manage leaks and spills because workers can easily clear the spill sump (without releasing into soil and drains) and arrange disposal of the flammable waste. 

REMEMBER: Apart from legal requirements under work health and safety laws, you also have EPA obligations to prevent hazardous chemicals from being released into the environment. 

3. Impact protection

There is a requirement under Section 358 of the WHS Regulations to protect containers of hazardous chemicals from damage caused by impact or excessive loads. Flammable liquids cabinets protect chemical drums and containers from being impacted by forklifts, delivery vehicles, falling tools, flying debris and projectiles.  

Protecting chemical containers from damage caused by ‘excessive loads’ refers to poor storage practices where warehouse shelves are overloaded, or containers placed in unstable piles. Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinets have heavy duty shelving and steel walls to prevent the containers from falling over or collapsing. 

REMEMBER: A safety cabinet will only provide impact and excessive load protection if the cabinet is located away from traffic, stands no higher than 2 metres from the floor, and loaded within its capacity rating. 


4. Warning display

When your workplace carries any type of hazardous chemicals you have a legal responsibility to display safety signage that is clearly visible to any person approaching the hazards. The signage must be located as close as possible to the hazard. 

A Class 3 Flammable Liquids that has been manufactured to Australian Safety Standards arrives with all mandatory signage including NO SMOKING sign, Hazard Class Placard, and Capacity Rating. The cabinet is designed so all the signs are fully visible when the doors are closed. 


5. Chemical stability

Hazardous chemicals must be kept stable, and prevented from decomposing or creating a dangerous reaction. There is also a requirement under Section 356 of the WHS Regulations to ensure chemicals don’t create additional hazards ie, stored next to an incompatible substance. 

Flammable liquid storage cabinets fully contain chemical vapours and liquids so the chemicals stored inside are protected from incompatible materials and substances.  

QUESTION: If you don’t use a flammable liquids cabinet and the chemicals at your job site ignited and caused a catastrophic fire — could you stand in a court of law and state that your workplace was doing all it could to isolate the chemicals from ignition sources? 


Next steps 

If you have any class of flammable or combustible Liquids sitting on pallets, wooden shelves, or just on the floor of the warehouse — please download our latest eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. It outlines everything you need to know about conducting a risk assessment on the flammables you carry at the worksite and choosing a compliant safety cabinet. Download and read today, it’s completely free. Essential Considerations when Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors download Free eBook

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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