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liquids and dangerous goods. In the workplace, flammable and combustible liquids are the most common group of hazardous chemicals used in Australia. The most common are petrol, kerosene and diesel fuel. To get information on the classification of flammable and combustible liquids the following should be consulted; The United Nations Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. Information can be accessed from Safe Work Australia. The Australian Dangerous Goods Code. This can be accessed from the National Transport Commission. The Storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids (AS1940) This is Australian Standard AS1940 and is available from Standards Australia. For further and the most up to date information please contact the relevant State health and safety regulator.
Hazardous chemicals are substances, mixtures, or products that can harm one’s health or put someone at risk of injury.
Chemicals need not be liquids – they can be solids or gases.
Health hazards are properties of a chemical that can cause disease or distress. Some chemicals are carcinogens or known to cause cancer. Toxic chemicals can cause skin irritation, infertility, birth defects, and other major illnesses. This can occur if the chemical is inhaled, touched, or ingested.
Physical hazards refer to a chemical’s ability to injure people on contact or cause damage to property. These chemicals may be flammable, for example. Other chemicals can be corrosive, which eat away at solid materials and through skin. Corrosive chemicals can damage skin and eyes if it makes contact.
Safely and properly storing chemicals of this nature is crucial for any workplace, even if the workplace does not use chemicals often and doesn’t have large quantities on hand at any given time. A large range of chemical storage cabinets and cupboards are available for sale in Australia.
Flammable or oxidising chemicals, even when not in use, can still pose a risk to workers and visitors. Flammable safety storage cabinets are sold in various sizes and configurations. Compressed gasses can suffocate or poison workers if they leak.
When incompatible chemicals mix, this can cause a chemical reaction. These reactions could cause explosions, fire, release toxic gas, or corrode containers which then go on to mix with other materials.
Everyone in your workplace needs to know:
– What chemicals are inside or around the workplace
– What chemicals could mix with one another and cause an adverse reaction
– How to minimise the risk of any such incident taking place by managing the risks and storing chemicals safely.
Not all chemicals are compatible with one another and it isn’t always clear which ones are and which ones aren’t.
Every business should have a Safety Data Sheet about chemicals on hand in the workplace. The relevant SDS for chemical storage in Section 7 – Handling and Storage and Section 10 – Stability and Reactivity. Section 7 has a chart showing which chemicals should be separated from one another.
When you are beginning to plan your management of risks around chemicals, you should also consider the location of your chemical storage. Storing flammable liquids or gases near combustible stores such as wood or paper can increase the severity of a fire, for example.
You also need to consider the materials you are storing chemicals in – aluminum containers may react with alkaline (base) solutions.
Storing chemicals near open flames such as welding stations or grinders may cause problems.
Firefighting equipment nearby also needs to be compatible with your stored chemicals. Some types of fire extinguishers may not be suitable for fighting fires of one type of chemical over another.
To properly manage the use of chemicals in your workplace you should develop a rigorous risk management program.
Risk management is a process of identifying hazards, assessing their risk level and potential for harm, and taking action to control the risks. Your program should also be monitored and regularly reviewed to see how well it is working.
The hazardous chemical SDS is a very useful document in creating a risk management program as it contains a lot of useful and relevant information. A chemical register should also be kept, containing a list of all hazardous chemicals in the workplace and copies of all Safety Data Sheets.
Use the Safety Data Sheet to identify hazards.
The SDS for hazardous chemicals has 16 sections. Section 2 is relevant to identifying hazards as it lists whether a chemical is flammable, toxic or carcinogenic.
Other relevant sections for identifying hazards include Section 5 to check what fire-fighting equipment is required, and Sections 7 (handling and storage) and 10 (stability and reactivity) to determine compatibility between chemicals.
Another thing to consider in identifying hazards is the storage of chemicals with other materials. For example, storing a flammable substance with combustible materials such as paper is a hazard as it will increase the risk of fire.
Risk assessment enables you to determine the likelihood and seriousness of harm from the chemical. This in turn helps in deciding what risk control actions to take.
Section 2 of the SDS is relevant here as it divides the chemical hazards into categories depending on their severity (e.g. their level of flammability).
You should also consider the quantities of chemicals you will be storing as this affects the likelihood of an incident and the severity of a risk. For example, the higher risk usually comes with larger quantities.
There are four levels of risk control, arranged in a hierarchy from most effective to least, as follows:
• Level 1 – Elimination. For example, total removal of the hazardous chemical which would reduce the risk level to zero.
• Level 2 – Substitution, isolation or engineering controls. This includes swapping the hazardous chemical for a safer ones, separating chemicals, storing chemicals safely, spill management, and use of ventilation equipment.
• Level 3 – Administrative controls. Examples include restricting unnecessary access, clearly marking chemical storage areas, and providing information and training to staff.
• Level 4 – Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Involves the wearing of PPE (such as face shields, boots, and gloves) when handling chemicals.
To demonstrate – when you choose locations to store chemicals and you separate incompatible chemicals, you are using level 2 isolation control measures. These are useful where level 1 (elimination) isn’t practicable. These two control measures are explained in more detail below.
To reduce the risk of harm you should store your hazardous chemicals away from people and other work areas where possible. To do this you will need to consider the layout and attributes of your workplace.
Your chemicals should be stored in suitable containers and away from ignition sources (such as spark from welding) and combustible items (e.g. paper and wood).
Another level 2 measure to consider when choosing storage areas is engineering controls – such as the use of mechanical ventilation and / or refrigeration.
If you need to store chemicals that are not compatible, you will need more than one storage location (see below).
This is a very important control measure as it reduces the risk of reactions and explosions. Here’s a brief guide:
• A minimum separation distance of 3 metres is recommended between incompatible chemicals, although some will need at least 5 metres.
• For smaller quantities, barriers such as chemical storage cabinets and partitions should be used.
• For larger quantities separate rooms may need to be used for storage. Fire-resistant rooms should also be considered for flammable or oxidising chemicals.
• Large quantities of extremely hazardous or reactive chemicals may need to be housed in separate buildings altogether, or in external storage tanks. Large relocatable outdoor dangerous goods stores are widely used.
• Containment measures should be used when separating chemicals. This includes spill trays and other measures such as bunds (retaining walls) or bollards to prevent vehicle accidents (e.g. where there are chemical storage tanks). Pallet bunding and IBC bunds are commonly used as secondary containment measures.
Also, see the section below under “Segregation List” for more information.
Regular reviews of your risk control measures allow you to see how well your system is working and to adjust it where necessary.
You should also do reviews when changes are made (e.g. new types of chemicals) or when new information on a hazardous chemical in your workplace comes to light.
Reviews can involve various actions. Examples include inspecting barriers and containers for signs of damage or corrosion, providing regular staff training on storing and handling chemicals, and ensuring equipment (e.g. for ventilation and fire-fighting) is in good order.
The checklist below should be helpful for this.
• Old chemicals – if a chemical is unwanted, old or out of date, dispose of it safely (refer to the SDS).
• Empty containers – dispose of all empty containers correctly, as they could contain chemical residues.
• Storage areas – check storage areas, spill trays and bunds are clean and organised.
• Risky items – remove any combustible items, food and personal belongings from storage areas.
• Labelling – ensure containers or plants that hold chemicals are clearly labelled or signed.
• Register – make sure your chemical register is right up-to-date and contains the SDS for each item.
• Ignition sources – separate chemicals from ignition sources, machinery and sunlight.
• Spill controls – make sure you have good methods for cleaning up spills and that workers know what to do if a spill happens.
• Incompatible chemicals – make sure incompatible substances are separated and don’t share bunding or drainage systems.
• Chemical types – liquids should not be stored above solids.
• Signage – provide signs to guide people on how and where to store chemicals where applicable.
• Containers – inspect storage containers and tanks. Repackage chemicals where containers are leaking or corroded.
• Refrigeration and ventilation – check if any of your chemicals need locking up or refrigerating, and that ventilation is adequate where required (e.g. to prevent fume build-up).
• Firefighting equipment – make sure fire equipment is tested, that you have the right types of extinguishers and that your workers are trained in their use.
This list of dangerous goods classes should help you with the process of separating incompatible chemicals.
Note however that even where chemicals are considered compatible, you should still refer to the Safety Data Sheets to double-check.
CLASS 2.1: FLAMMABLE GASES AND FLAMMABLE AEROSOLS
• Compatible with – 2.1.
• Store at least 3 metres from – 2.2, 6, 8.
• Store at least 5 metres from – 3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.1.
• Isolate from – 5.2.
CLASS 2.2: GASES UNDER PRESSURE
• Compatible with – 2.2.
• Store at least 3 metres from – 2.1, 3, 8.
• Store at least 5 metres from – 4.2, 5.2.
• Refer to SDS guidance for – 4.1, 4.3, 5.1, 6.
CLASS 3: FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS
• Compatible with – 3.
• Store at least 3 metres from – 2.2, 4.1, 6, 8.
• Store at least 5 metres from – 2.1, 4.2, 4.3, 5.1.
• Isolate from – 5.2.
CLASS 4.1: FLAMMABLE SOLIDS
• Compatible with – 4.1.
• Store at least 3 metres from – 3, 4.2, 6.
• Store at least 5 metres from – 2.1, 4.3, 5.1, 5.2.
• Refer to SDS guidance for – 2.2, 8.
CLASS 4.2: PYROPHORIC SOLIDS, LIQUIDS & GASES, AND SELF-HEATING SUBSTANCES AND MIXTURES
• Compatible with – 4.2
• Store at least 3 metres from – 4.1, 4.3, 6, 8.
• Store at least 5 metres from – 2.1, 2.2, 3, 5.1.
• Isolate from – 5.2.
CLASS 4.3: SUBSTANCES AND MIXTURES WHICH EMIT FLAMMABLE GASES WHEN IN CONTACT WITH WATER
• Compatible with – 4.3.
• Store at least 3 metres from – 4.2, 5.1.
• Store at least 5 metres from – 2.1, 3, 4.1, 5.2.
• Refer to SDS guidance for – 2.2, 6, 8.
CLASS 5.1: OXIDISING SOLIDS, LIQUIDS & GASES
• Compatible with – NIL.
• Store at least 3 metres from – 4.3, 6, 8.
• Store at least 5 metres from – 2.1, 3, 4.1, 4.2, 5.2.
• Refer to SDS guidance for – 2.2, 5.1.
CLASS 5.2: SELF-REACTIVE SUBSTANCES & MIXTURES AND ORGANIC PEROXIDES
• Compatible with – 5.2.
• Store at least 3 metres from – 6, 8.
• Store at least 5 metres from – 2.2, 4.1, 4.3, 5.1.
• Isolate from – 2.1, 3, 4.2.
CLASS 6: ALL HEALTH HAZARDS
• Compatible with – 6.
• Store at least 3 metres from – 2.1, 3, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2.
• Store at least 5 metres from – N/A.
• Refer to SDS guidance for – 2.2, 4.3, 8.
CLASS 8: CORROSIVE TO METALS, SKIN CORROSION CAT-1, SERIOUS EYE DAMAGE CAT-1
• Compatible with – NIL.
• Store at least 3 metres from – 2.1, 2.2, 3, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2.
• Store at least 5 metres from – N/A.
• Refer to SDS guidance for – 4.1, 4.3, 6, 8.
Note: the above list should not be applied for gas cylinders.
We’re proud to offer a comprehensive selection of flammable cabinets, including battery transport devices, toxic substances cabinets, corrosive substances storage, indoor stainless steel cabinets, horizontal drum storage cabinets, and many more. With options available to suit a wide range of applications and industries, you’re sure to locate the most appropriate flammable liquid cabinet to suit your dangerous goods storage requirements.
Standard features of our flammable liquid storage cabinets include sturdy galvanised adjustable internal shelving, large capacity sumps to contain accidental spills, powder-coated finishes, full safety signage, built-in vents, flash arrestors, full compliance with Australian standards, and more. Manufactured in Australia, you can be sure that these products will deliver the best reliability and performance, allowing for safe and effective storage of flammable liquids and chemicals.
We pride ourselves on offering flammable liquid cabinet options that are suitable for storing various classes of dangerous goods. These include flammable liquids and substances, corrosive substances, toxic substances, oxidising agents, and organic peroxides. You can also choose from a range of sizes to suit your specific needs, including 30 litres, 100 litres, 160 litres, 205 litres and 250 litres capacities.
To learn more about our range, or to obtain a quote for one of our dangerous goods storage products please contact our team of industry experts today. We’ll provide you with friendly advice and assistance that’s tailored to your needs. Sitecraft also offers an on-site consulting service to advise you on the most appropriate safety storage products for your particular storage and handling requirements. With offices and warehouses in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane we offer our valued customers Australia wide service.