When working with any kind of flammable liquids, safety is of the utmost importance. Installing appropriate chemical storage is essential. Below are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a cabinet for the safe storage of highly flammable liquids on-site.
Type of flammable liquid
Start by identifying what type of liquids you need to store. Various chemicals are classified as flammable so it’s a good idea to examine the data sheets for all the liquids you need to store to determine their relative flash points. This will enable you to segregate and store chemicals appropriately.
Highly flammable liquids (HFLs) have a flash point below 37.8°C. When stored at or above this temperature, these chemicals if spilled, can release easily ignitable vapours into the air. For the safety of your facility, you may need to install temperature-controlled storage for HFLs, ideally located outdoors and away from your main premises.
Location of storage
The amount of liquid you need to store will also impact the location of your chemical storage. The Health and Safety Executive provides a guide to storing flammable liquids – HS(G)51.
This guide correlates the volume of HFL being stored and the minimum distance your storage cabinet can be located from things like occupied buildings, a source of ignition, or an LPG tank.
Although an outdoor solution may be necessary for bulk storage, you may also want to consider storing smaller amounts(no more than 50 litres) closer to where you use them in a wall-mount or floor standing cabinet, purpose designed for storing flammable liquids.
Using an approved, properly labelled, flammable storage cabinet can dramatically decrease the risks associated with flammable liquids. Safe HFL storage will feature a flameproof, welded steel construction with hinged, lockable, fireproof doors and insulated firewall panels.
Fire-rated chemical storage should provide a fire protection level measured in minutes. This indicates how long chemicals will remain insulated in the event of a fire on your premises.
Self-closing doors add another level of safety, ensuring doors cannot be accidentally left open, thereby compromising cabinet safety.
Without proper temperature control, highly flammable liquids can easily reach their flash point and release dangerous vapours into the air. Choosing a chemical storage unit with appropriate ventilation and exhaust systems can help keep flammable liquids cool and ensure dangerous vapours are removed. Since HFL vapours are heavier than air, it may be necessary to specify forced extraction to remove vapours from the base of the cabinet.
Where necessary, chemical storage can be customised, enabling users to pre-set the temperature to avoid highly flammable liquids approaching their flash point.
When thinking about ventilation, bear in mind that flammable vapours do not just present a fire risk, they are also a health hazard for employees. Removing them from the work area is vital.
The kind of ventilation you choose will depend on the type and amount of flammable liquids you are storing, as well as the size and layout of the work area. Exhaust fans, hoods and ducts can all improve safety when handling or dispensing HFLs.
You may find it useful to refer to the ‘Control of Substances Hazardous to Health’ (COSHH) regulations. This legislation was put in place to protect workers when working with dangerous substances and materials by reducing their exposure to hazardous substances.
To ensure any accidental spillages are managed safely, invest in bunded storage. A cabinet with a tray or tank built into its base will capture and contain any drips or leaks so they do not pose a risk to the surrounding environment.
Bear in mind that the capacity of the bund will need to be greater than that of the largest container in the cabinet.
For more information on flammable liquid storage, or for advice on adhering to relevant Health and Safety regulations in the UK, check out our useful guide on How to Safely Store Highly Flammable Liquids.