Writing a set of operating procedures for your flammable liquids store 

Sep 9, 2019 Posted by Walter Ingles

Here at STOREMASTA we manufacture a lot of safety cabinets for Class 3 Flammable Liquids and other Dangerous Goods. But the purchase alone will not minimise your chemical and compliance risk — very often during follow-up audits and risk assessments we discover the cabinet has been installed in the wrong location or being used incorrectly (usually dangerously). In this blog we’ll be providing a solid strategy for developing a set of operating procedures to ensure your flammable liquids cabinet remains 100% safe, effective and compliant. 

 

REMEMBER: Its a requirement of the WHS Act and Regulations to ensure the workers who will implement, follow and enforce the operating procedures are consulted and involved in their development and implementation. 

 

1. Commissioning and installation procedures

The purchase of a Class 3 Flammable Liquids cabinet is usually the outcome of a risk assessment, and often the person who carried out the risk assessment does not work in the area where the cabinet will be received and installed. Therefore, your operating procedures should include checks for the following: 

  • Purchase order: Make sure the cabinet size is correct and suited to the quantity of the chemicals requiring storage. 
  • Receiving: Check the integrity of the cabinet and make sure it has not been damaged during delivery, site transfer, and installation. 
  • Location: Make sure the cabinet is installed in a location that does not exceed aggregate quantities, breach segregation distances, or create a fire or obstruction hazard. 
  • Level: A flammable liquids cabinet must be installed on a solid, flat surface to ensure the spill sump and auto-closing doors operate properly. 

 

2. Handling and loading procedures

Once the cabinet has been installed, you’ll need to train your workers to ensure the cabinet is loaded and used properly. The operating procedures should include: 

  • Never loading the cabinet past capacity. 
  • Unless recommended otherwise, storing flammable liquids containers upright. 
  • Ensuring chemical drums and containers are fully inside the cabinet — and the doors freely close without assistance. 
  • Only storing Class 3 Flammable Liquids inside the cabinet. 
  • Never using the lower spill compound as a storage area. 
  • Removing chemical containers from cartons and packaging material before putting into the cabinet. 

3. Maintenance and monitoring

Safety cabinets can quickly fall into disrepair at busy work environments, or in regions with an extreme climate. If water gets into the cabinet (eg, leaking roof in the warehouse) it could cause the cabinet to corrode quicker. Make sure you carry out regular maintenance and inspections, specifically checking: 

  • Integrity of shelving. 
  • Functionality of self-closing doors. 
  • Regular cleaning of the spill sump. 
  • Visibility of cabinet warning signs and markings. 
  • Register of hazardous chemicals is intact. 
  • Obstructions between the cabinet and emergency shower/eyewash. 
  • Correct loading and segregation of chemicals. 
  • Signs of corrosion or rust. 
  • Evidence of impact (dents, tears, holes) or other damage. 

 

4. Control of hazards

Your procedures should include measures to prevent ignition sources, incompatible substances and other hazards near flammable liquids cabinets. We suggest the following: 

  • Restricting access to Dangerous Goods storage areas. 
  • Monitoring external contractors and site visitors to ensure they follow site rules. 
  • Supervising workers to ensure they follow operating procedures. 
  • Prohibiting any type of ignition source or hot work (welding, cutting, brazing, grinding etc) within 3 metres of the cabinet. 
  • Banning workers and contractors from bringing personal items into flammable liquids stores(eg, lighters, electronics, gadgets). 
  • Preventing vehicular traffic from entering the area. 

 

5. Housekeeping

Operating procedures should also have scope for ongoing housekeeping and area upkeep. This includes: 

  • Not allowing combustible items to build up in the area surrounding the cabinet. 
  • Putting chemical containers back in the cabinet immediately after use. 
  • Ensuring chemical containers have their lids secured. 
  • Checking containers for signs of cracking, damage, or leaks. 
  • Wiping down containers that may have flammable liquids spilled down the sides while pouring or decanting. 
  • Keeping the top of the cabinet clear — ie, not storing files, extra chemicals, or combustibles on top of the cabinet. 
  • Clearing the spill sump as soon as a chemical leak or spill is discovered, then wiping down walls and shelves. 
  • Safely disposing of spilled chemicals and clean-up materials, rags and utensils.  

 

6. Refinement, training and enforcement

Once you have developed your policies and procedures they need to be issued to workers and refined according to their feedback. Workers, contractors and supervisors will all require training. 

Considerations include: 

  • Including the procedure in job descriptions. 
  • Ensuring workers understand that following the procedures is now a condition of their employment. 
  • Have supervisors enforce the procedure via inspections, direct monitoring, and addressing non-compliance with immediate corrective actions. 
  • Taking disciplinary action in cases where workers are repeatedly ignoring procedure. 

Next steps 

For more information about how an indoor flammable liquids cabinet can reduce your chemical and compliance risk, please download our free eBook Essential Considerations When Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors. We detail the selection and installation process to ensure your Class 3 Flammable Liquids are stored legally and safely. 

 

Essential Considerations when Storing Flammable Liquids Indoors download Free eBook

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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