We are all in the business of safety.
And it’s no secret that in order to be responsible and professional actors in our respective workplaces, we must pay very serious attention to the present risks of working environments, and do everything we can to take mitigating steps and ensure our safety and the safety of all those around us.

The safe and appropriate treatment of flammable liquids is no joke, and is an essential part of any on-site, warehouse or industrial job. So, before we give you a list of best ways and industry best-practice methods to deal with flammable substances in your workplace, let’s first take a look at exactly what constitutes a flammable liquid.

What constitutes a flammable substance?

Flammable liquids are volatile substances that give off flammable vapours that will ignite in the presence of an ignition source.

Due to their volatile nature and low flash point, flammable liquids pose many risks to the people, property and environment of the workplace. Incidents in the workplace arising from the incorrect storage and treatment of flammable materials can have huge negative consequences, the worst cases being: severe injury, death, property damage, decreased profitability due to down time, and environmental harm, as well as financial liability due to lack of compliance with industry mandated safety requirements.

Some of the best-practice methods for the safe storage and handling of flammable materials include:

  • Store in well-ventilated areas

Flammable substances give off ignitable vapour. These vapours are in many cases, a predominant cause of serious harm to people and to the property where the flammable liquids are being stored.

Excessive inhalation of these vapours can lead to asphyxiation, as well as increase the risk of toxic doses to someone, causing nausea, vomiting and loss of consciousness, which can further put someone in harm’s way.

Flammable vapours are by definition ignitable, and thus, if they come into contact with any ignition sources, devastating fires may result.  

To reduce these risks, it is important to store your flammable liquids in a well-ventilated area. This will reduce the concentration of the flammable vapours in the air and minimise the risk of fire and asphyxiation.

  • Adhere strictly to safety practices

On-going and conscientious reporting of the safe storage and relocating of flammable substances is essential in ensuring the safety of workers.  An important housekeeping practice is to make sure that all flammable liquids are always packaged safely.

Make sure that all flammable liquids storage containers and drums are in good condition and are labelled correctly. Correct labelling allows workers to identify the risks associated with the substance and take measures to minimise or prevent the risks associated in handling the flammable materials. This will also help mitigate risks to do with potential ignition sources in the area and minimise the possibility of something going wrong.

Flammable liquid stores should be restricted to authorised personnel only and all staff should be trained in the use of the product. 

  • Keep records

When flammable liquids are used in the workplace, a copy of the safety data sheets for each substance must be kept close to the area where the flammable liquids are being stored. Safety data sheets are documents that chemical manufacturers develop to accompany the use of their hazardous chemicals. These documents provide critical information about the hazardous chemical including: the chemical’s identity, health and physical hazards, storage and handling requirements, emergency procedures, stability and reactivity, and transport information.

Compliant flammable liquid storage cabinets

To achieve the lowest level of risk, flammable liquids must always be stored in a flammable liquids storage cabinet. A safety cabinet used for the storage of flammable liquids must meet the requirements of the Australian Standards. The Australian Standard that outlines the requirements for the storage of flammable liquids is AS1940.

A compliant flammable cabinet must have a dual-skinned construction, provision for ventilation, perforated shelves, self-closing doors and a spill containment sump.

Flammable Liquid storage cabinets protect the internal contents of the cabinet from outside ignition sources.  The double-wall thermal barrier creates a 40mm air space which slows the transfer of heat through the cabinet, reducing the propagation of fire throughout the building. This allows time for the evacuation of staff and for emergency services to respond. The 150mm spill containment sump contains spills from leaking on the surrounding floor and eliminating the spread of potential fires which may cause damage to plant and equipment.

When installed, mechanical ventilation of the cabinet prevents vapour from igniting and from exceeding the workplace exposure standards by maintaining the vapour level below the Lower Flammable Limit (LFL).

Ensure the appropriate protective equipment is worn at all times

When flammable liquids are used in the workplace, it is good practice to use personal protective equipment. Some personal protective equipment that can be necessary includes respiratory equipment, gloves and safety specs.

If you’d like to know more about how SafetyQuip can help with the safe and compliant storage of your flammable materials, get in touch with one of our representatives today, take a look below or peruse our storage products on pages 112-115 of our catalogue!

Cabinet - Flammable Liquids Storage Justrite Under Bench Yellow - 100 Litre

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Meeting your safety obligations to your workforce is a serious business. Standards evolve, and it can be tough to keep abreast of them. So it’s great to know you have a partner in SafetyQuip – a business that makes it its business to know your safety issues, and stocks all the safety workwear and PPE you will need to address them.

At SafetyQuip, we stock every kind of safety equipment and PPE, including respiratory protection, HI VIS safety workwear, height safety and skin protection. We stock safety equipment for materials handling, with ladders, platforms and elevated work spaces. And we’ve got you covered for personal protective equipment for the feet, with waterproof and steel capped work boots, plus a range of accessories.

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