Highly flammable liquids are chemicals with a flash point below 37.8c. The flash point refers to the temperature at which the chemical releases heavy vapours into the air that are easily ignitable. This means the chemical will not spontaneously combust but the vapours will ignite when exposed to temperatures above its flash point. When a highly flammable chemical is stored in temperatures above 37.8c they become volatile and dangerous, meaning they cannot be stored at normal working temperatures. To ensure the safety of your facility and employees, it is important to store HFLs in temperature-controlled environments and away from areas with heavy foot traffic. It’s recommended to keep these chemicals in an external flammable storage area that is located outdoors. This will reduce the risk of them contributing to or increasing the severity of a fire on site.
HSL Storage Recommendations
When storing highly flammable liquids on your facility it is important to ensure you have secured them in a safe location, with the proper safety precautions in place. Fire rated and fire protected storage units provide the safe storage of highly flammable liquids. They have insulated fire panels and are constructed to ensure the containment of any chemical fires. Fire rated chemical storage units have a stated fire protection level that is measured by time (i.e. 60 minute / 1 hour fire protection). A flammable storage cabinet with 60 minutes fire protection means that if there is a fire on your premises, your flammable chemicals will be insulated from the fire for 60 minutes.
In addition to fire insulated panels, it is important to ensure your chemical store is temperature controlled. Without a proper temperature controlling mechanism in place, highly flammable liquids can easily reach its flash point and release toxic vapours into the air. Chemical storage units with proper ventilation and cooling systems such as extractor fans can be used as a means of temperature control. The vapours from HFLs are heavier than air so vents should be at floor level and/or forced extraction should be designed to pull vapours from floor level. Flammable chemical stores can be customised to include these features which allows you to preset the temperature within the store and ensure HFLs never reach their flash point.
HFL Health and Safety Regulations
The HSE released a guide on the storage of flammable liquids to ensure those responsible for chemical safety in the workplace comply with H&S regulations such as the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). DSEAR is a regulation that is enforced by the HSE or local authorities to ensure the safety of employees or others who may be at risk from dangerous substances that can cause a fire.
The HSE guide emphasises the importance of the location of your flammable storage unit and the volume of chemicals you will be storing in order to ensure compliance with DSEAR. The guidance document has a table of volumes of HFLs stored vs. the minimum distance that your flammables store must be located away from an occupied building, source of ignition, LPG tank, boundary, etc. For example, if you are storing between 1,000 and 100,000 litres of HFL, the minimum separation distance is 4 metres.
Your store should be bunded to retain any spillages which may occur. Bunds are large tanks or trays in the base of the store and are designed to capture and hold any spilled chemicals, thereby preventing environmental pollution. The bund capacity should be either 110% of the capacity of the largest container in your store or 25% of the total volume to be stored, whichever is the greater.
Bunds can be made from a variety of different materials including reinforced concrete, steel or plastic. The best solution for spill protection is a flammable storage unit which has an open mesh grating floor that allows spilled chemicals to pass into bund – this will reduce the risk of chemical accidents due to spills.
A risk assessment will need to be carried out on your flammable storage cabinet to determine if it needs to be zoned as a hazardous area. Hazardous areas are divided into Zones (European and IECEX method) or Classes according to the likelihood of a potentially flammable atmosphere being present. Where there are flammable vapours present, and any electrical equipment is installed in the store, it will need to be Atex rated. ATEX is the term used for 2 European Directives, the ATEX 137 Workplace Directive and the ATEX 95 Equipment Directive. These directives relate to the minimum requirements for the protection of employees who are at risk to explosive atmospheres and any systems and equipment used in volatile environments.
Identifying Potential Risks
After you have identified the amount of highly flammable liquids you will be storing, the temperature at which they need to be stored, and the location where they need to be stored, it is important to conduct a risk assessment. Risk assessments are crucial to ensure you have taken active measures to control substances that are hazardous to the health and safety of employees. Every business is different so it’s important not to copy a risk assessment from another business. You need to think through the hazards and measures required for your specific workplace.
Conducting a risk assessment is only effective if you and your employees actively act on the measures detailed. You must follow through with any required action resulting from the risk assessment. After identifying the risks of storing highly flammable liquids at your facility, you will be able to easily select the correct flammable storage unit to suit your needs.
By ensuring adequate flammable liquid storage, you can reduce the number of workplace accidents as well as the potential damage caused by any unfortunate disasters. At Safety Storage Systems we offer customisable flammable storage units to ensure you have the appropriate storage unit for your business needs.