Flammable materials are some of the most dangerous ones you’ll ever store at your workplace.
As such, they also (understandably) come with some pretty strict storage requirements!
And it goes beyond putting dangerous goods labels, hazchem signs and fire hazard signs around your storage areas. When it comes to flammable liquids and explosive gasses, extra precautions should be taken to protect people and property.
New to storing flammable liquids? If so, you’re in luck: today, we’re taking a bit of a break from talking signs to discuss what else you can do to store flammable liquids properly.
What are flammable liquids?
Flammable liquids are combustible liquids that burn. Petrol is the most common one, though there are plenty others ike:
- Certain paints
- Cleaning products
Flammable liquids are often unavoidable, as they’re widely used in various industries and workplaces.
Of course, it isn’t just the liquid itself that’s dangerous – in many instances, the vapour from these liquids can usually cause a fire depending on its working temperature.
In Australia, flammable liquids are classified depending on their flash point – that is to say, the lowest temperature that any vapours it gives off will ignite (flammable liquids with low flash points produce more vapours – remember what we said above about vapours).
As such, the exact storage system you use will depend on the flammable liquid itself.
That having been said, there are a couple of things that are consistent when it comes to storing flammable liquids to protect your business from risks of fire, explosions and damage.
Things to consider when storing flammables
1) Flammable liquid flashpoint and temperature
As we mentioned above, different liquids have different flash points – this impacts how sensitive they are, as well as what measures you’ll need to take to prevent a fire.
Before setting storage of your flammable liquid in your warehouse facility, you and your staff need to know the flashpoint quality of your flammable substances for the liquid not to reach its flash point.
Luckily, this information is a mandatory part of safety data sheets (SDS) under the GHS.
Finding this information is crucial, as it directly relates to flammability, gives you an indication of what you need to do to protect your people and property and indicates what actions can be taken to reduce your risk.
2) Location and layout of your indoor storage areas
Ideally, the location of your storage area should not be on the lowest floor. Instead, try to store these as high as practically possible.
It might sound like a weird thing, but think of it this way: when you store flammable liquids on the ground floor, they could pose a barrier or hazard in the event of a fire.
By contrast, if they’re located higher up, then at least they won’t physically stop your staff from escaping in the unlikely event of a fire.
Granted, this isn’t always possible – however, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try!
Sealed containers are an absolute must when it comes to storing
Thankfully, the vast majority of flammable materials are delivered in resealable containers, making this a non-issue for most.
In cases where they aren’t however, it’s probably a good idea to think about taking them and putting them in materials that are.
Sealing them puts a barrier between the liquid and any potential fire sources, as well as preventing spills if someone is careless and accidentally knocks them over. Finally, it also prevents fumes from making their way into the workplace.
4) Use specialised fire safety cabinets
We’ve talked about specialised cabinets when it comes to storing oxidising agents.
What you might not have known however is that flammable liquids have their own ones too!
Fire safety cabinets are completely enclosed and insulated. This services a number of purposes:
- Preventing fire sources from coming into contact with flammable materials
- Stopping liquid from spilling out into the workplace in the event of a leak
- Providing insulation and keeping the temperature down (especially important for liquids with a low flash point)
Australian standard AS1940:2017 outlines the specific standard that these cabinets need to be built to – as long as it has the sticker, you shouldn’t need to think too hard about the details.
What you should think about is placement – storage cabinets should never be installed near passageways or aisles, especially the ones near exits.
And of course, you can’t forget to label these cabinets with the appropriate hazchem signs!
5) Properly dispose of flammable substances
So you’ve had a spill – fortunately, nothing worse has happened, and it’s safe to clean it up.
Flammable liquid disposal needs to be done appropriately and stored correctly so as not to put anyone in danger.
Not only that, but it also needs to be carried out in accordance with environmental laws and practices!
- Where will the flammable waste be held until it can be disposed of safely?
- Do you need to notify local authorities like the EPA or local Council?
- How do you collect and dispose of the waste?
- Do you need a specialist to collect the waste and take it away?
These are some of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself when determining the proper way to safely dispose of flammable substances – whatever you do, don’t just pour it down the drain or take a barrel with spillage down to the local tip!
6) Protect flammable liquids from ignition sources
The best way to prevent fires? Ban potential fire sources.
As much as possible, keep any flammable substances far away from any ignition sources such as flammable liquids that might cause any danger of fire and explosion.
Naturally, that means banning things like naked flames and smoking – however, depending on how sensitive the material you’re working with is, you might also have to ban:
- Exposed incandescent materials
- Mobile phones (this is why petrol stations ban them)
- Electrical sockets near your storage area
While they may not sound like it, each of these can potentially ignite your flammable liquids – that’s why it’s so important that each of these are banned using workplace safety signs such as prohibition signs.
And while we’re on the topic of signage…
7) Ensure correct labelling and signage
No chemical storage system is complete without the right type of signage to identify the substance and warn people about it.
From hazchem signs hung up around storage areas themselves, to mandatory signs that outline what needs to be done when handling these substances, to dangerous goods labels attached to containers, it’s crucial that you get the right signage solution.
And it isn’t just these obvious types of signs, either – you’ll also need to think about:
- Fire safety signs
- Emergency exit signs
- First-aid signs
- Evacuation signs
- Emergency information panels and transport labels
These are just some of the workplace safety signs you’ll need – and not just if you work with flammable chemicals, either!
Your one-stop-shop for workplace safety signs
We’ve got hazchem signs, dangerous goods labels and more
Health and safety: two of the most important things when it comes to taking care of your staff and business.
And you can’t have that unless you have the right signs hung up.
With fast nationwide delivery (including for completely custom safety signs), we can get you all the signs you need with minimal downtime.
When it comes to hazardous materials such as flammable liquids, we can even offer our unique insight as a business that specialises in supplying hazchem signage and hazchem requirements – we’ll tell you:
- What you need
- Where it needs to go
- How big it has to be
- Mandatory colours
We provide you with helpful advice and solutions that will keep your business and your staff safe and healthy.
Get in touch with us today and choose from our range of signages that will help you strictly follow and implement safety workplace signs – call Signsmart on (03) 9687 3050 or order a custom safety sign for your business today.
You can also visit us for custom safety signs in Australia: pop into our headquarters at 122 Whitehall Street, Footscray, VIC 3011, if you prefer a more hands-on approach.