The importance of a Flammable Liquid Storage Cabinet at your workplace

In the previous post, we learned about how FR clothing protects you from serious burn injury during a fire incidents. Continuing the trend on fire-related topics, Let us explore the importance of having a flammable liquid storage cabinet at your workplace! 

Risks exist everywhere, and we are constantly exposed to them, whether it is in an industrial area, construction site, laboratory, or even office. Thus it is important to know the risks you may face and what can be done to prevent you from injury when such risks occur. One method to aid in managing risks is through The Hierarchy of Control, but that is a topic for another time.

In this article, we will share how to identify potential flammable hazards that require safety storage and the importance of having one at your workplace.

Identifying and understanding the hazard of flammable liquid at your workplace

Firstly, you need to identify flammable liquids at your workplace. Although the types and quantity might vary, here are some of the most common flammable liquids found across most industries:

Acetone

Adhesives

Ethanol

Gasoline

Methanol

Paints

To dive in further, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) categorized any liquid with a flashpoint at or below 93 °C as a flammable liquid and split it into four categories:

  1. Category 1 shall include liquids with flashpoints below 23 °C and a boiling point at or below 35 °C. 
  2. Category 2 shall include liquids with flashpoints below 23 °C and a boiling point above35 °C.
  3. Category 3 shall include liquids with flashpoints at or above 23 °C and at or below 60 °C. 
  4. Category 4 shall include liquids having flashpoints above 60 °C and at or below 93 °C. 

Why is OSHA categorizing it in such ways? During the testing, a small flame appeared in the vapor zone (generated by the heat) above the liquid’s surface, within the mentioned temperature range. 

The vapor generated by the heat is the primary factor in why the liquid becomes volatile, and it can be hazardous when left unsupervised. Especially when vapors of a flammable liquid are mixed with air in the right proportions and meet with any ignition, an explosion can occur. To learn more about the regulations in Singapore in terms of flammable materials, please refer to SCDF website.

How to choose the right flammable liquid storage cabinet for your workplace?

After identifying and understanding the hazard, there are a few steps that you can follow to ensure that you are getting the right type of cabinet for your workplace.

Why is it so important to have a flammable liquid storage cabinet?

Handling such a hazardous material requires protocols to handle it safely, including storage guidelines. If your workplace has flammable liquids up to a certain amount, you might be required by local governing law/regulations to have a flammable cabinet to store your flammable liquids.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed NFPA 30 as the primary code for flammable and combustible liquids to avoid and reduce the risk of flammable liquids. OSHA and other local agencies in different countries use NFPA 30 code to base their flammable liquid storage compliance standards. Here are some of the minimum criteria for a liquid storage cabinet based on the NFPA 30 code:

  • Double-walled fireproof steel with an insulating temperature space on all sides
  • Weld joints (or other similar methods)
  • The door spill must be 51mm higher than the ground
  • Reflective label of “Flammable – Keep Fire Away” on the cabinet

Every criterion serves its purpose and ensures the maximum level of protection for the users, and some countries made the criterion mandatory which will have some legal penalty if it doesn’t comply with the standard. But, having a flammable cabinet is not only to just comply with the regulatory standards. Here are some other reasons for how important a flammable cabinet is at your workplace:

Safely organize flammable liquids

Keeping your flammable liquids correctly labeled and stored away from the fire will help you to focus more on the bigger stuff, like completing your project on time. This also will help you to prevent grabbing and mixing the wrong chemicals. Having an organized workspace is also suggested can help with increasing productivity.

Accident prevention

Accidental spills, leaks, or breakage can happen to everyone, and when this happens unnoticed, this can cause facility damage and turn into a fire when it is exposed close enough to ignition. One of the reasons why the door spill needs to be 51mm higher than the ground is that when this kind of accident happens, the cabinet will safely collect the leaks. It is advised that users check the sump area periodically to dispose of any accumulated leaks.

Limit unauthorized access

You could work at the industrial level or an educational institution, but one thing for sure is that not everyone should have access to flammable liquids. Suppose the chemicals fall into the hands of a curious student or someone with bad intentions, which can lead to a very difficult situation for the person and the organization, especially if it causes harm to the public. 

To prevent explosion

As mentioned in the previous section, the flammable liquid could turn into an explosion if mixed with air proportionately and met with an ignition source. So, keeping the flammable liquids in the cabinet can help prevent an explosion since the cabinet is designed with double-walled fireproof steel with at least 10 minutes fire rating or up to 90 minutes if it’s multi-layered fireproof walled. 

Do's and don'ts of using flammable liquid storage cabinet

While now we understand why it is important to have a flammable cabinet, let’s talk about do’s and don’ts on how to utilize a flammable liquid storage cabinet!

Do always ensure that the lid is tightly closed before storing it in the cabinet

Although it may seem like a common practice, it is still a good habit to double-check the lid, especially before storing the flammable liquids back in the cabinet, to reduce the chance of spill or leakage inside the cabinet or when you take it out. 

Do check the sump area for any leaks or spill collection periodically

This check avoids any vapor build-up from the chemical spills and leaks that will eventually increase the fire risk and compromise the sump capacity.

Do ensure the door is closed and locked when not in use

This is not only to prevent unauthorized persons from having access to the flammable liquids but also to protect the flammable liquids stored inside. 

Do keep away any ignition source at least 3m apart from the cabinet

Once flammable liquids ignite, it wouldn’t take too long for the fire to spread and becomes unmanageable. So always check that there are no ignition sources surrounding the cabinet area.

Don’t overload the cabinet

Overloading your cabinet is not only dangerous, but it will get you into trouble if you get caught during random inspections. The maximum storage volume of each cabinet was there to ensure that the cabinet could give its maximum protection at all times. 

Don’t use the sump area for extra storage

If you use the sump area for storage, this indicates that you have overloaded your cabinet. The sump area’s main purpose is to catch any accidental spill and leakage. If you use the sump area as storage, you are limiting the amount to contain spills and leakage.

Don’t store other incompatible hazardous materials substances

Each class of hazardous materials requires different handling methods due to the behavior of each material itself. Storing different materials in the same cabinet might trigger dangerous reactions that can put everyone at risk.

Conclusion

Having a flammable liquid storage cabinet is not only because it’s a requirement to comply with the local agency standards but also a way to protect flammable liquids for a certain period. This extra time allows the users to take control of the situation by using fire suppression equipment or the time to escape the area. The cabinet is also built with other safety features to ensure maximum user protection.

We currently have a brand new range of safety cabinets that complies with various standards from Sysbel. Sysbel flammable liquid storage cabinets are multi-layered fireproof walls built with high-strength welded steel and gypsum board insulation that makes the cabinet fire-rated for up to 90 minutes.

If you’re having difficulties deciding which flammable liquid storage cabinet fits your workplace, feel free to contact our specialists. We will help you evaluate all the factors and provide you with the best recommendation!

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