Flammable and combustible substances include liquids, gases and solid forms. They are easily ignited materials, and so should be stored carefully, ideally in a flammables cabinet. Due to the risk involved, minimum guidelines for storing flammable substances were set in place in the Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). This requires businesses using dangerous substances to take all possible measures to protect their workers and workspace.
One strongly advised safety measure is a flammable storage cabinet. Flammable storage cabinets are made from flame/fire-proof materials which significantly reduces risk.
We’ve created a list of the different types of flammable substances which should always be stored within a flammables cabinet, to avoid danger to employees or the environment.
Flammable & combustible liquids:
Flammable and combustible liquids ignite automatically when they reach a certain temperature. While both require safe handling, the difference between flammable and combustible liquids is the flashpoint (flashpoints are the lowest temperature at which the material gives off enough vapour to start burning.) Link>> Flammable liquids have a flashpoint of below 37.8° Celsius (100°F) while combustibles have a flashpoint between 37.8° Celsius (100°F) and 93.3°C (200°F). To prevent such liquids from endangering your work place, you should check the flashpoint of each liquid entering your work area and ensure to store them in an appropriate flammable storage cabinet. Examples of flammable liquids include common materials such as petrol, paints, paint thinners and alcohols.
Flammable gases will burn when mixed with an oxidant, such as air, and when provided with an ignition source. These can be dangerous, even when stored in sealed containers, as small quantities of escaping gas can form an ignition mixture in favourable conditions. This can potentially lead to fire or explosions. Examples of flammable gases include propane, acetylene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, natural gas and methane.
Some chemicals have explosive properties that can be activated by heat, friction or shock. Touch sensitive chemicals are particularly dangerous, as they can be activated simply by brushing against the container. These chemicals can naturally occur or be specifically manufactured for this property. The danger associated with these can also increase as the chemicals degrade over time and so particular care should be taken when storing older chemical stock. Compounds at risk of this include those containing acetylides, azides, oxonides, haloamine and nitoso.
Some chemicals spontaneously evolve oxygen at room temperature or with slight heating. This release of oxygen can accelerate a fire, increasing the possibility of damage to your property. To reduce the threat of potential accidents, oxidising chemicals should be contained in a secure flammable storage cabinet. As some oxidisers can mix with other chemicals to cause a combustion, they should be stored in separate areas. Examples of oxidising chemicals include hydrogen peroxide, concentrated Nitric acid and bleach.
Some solids are also quite dangerous. For one, old film and photographic negatives are commonly made from cellulose nitrate. Not only does this catch fire easily, it can also spontaneously combust due to degradation of the films. These are particularly dangerous as they’re difficult to quench. Another flammable solid is picrate salt, which is commonly used to create explosives but is also used in dye manufacturing and laboratories. The material is very sensitive and reacts to heat, shock and friction.
Want to find out more about best practices for safely storing flammable materials and maintaining chemical safety in the workplace? Read our previous blog posts or check out our flammables storage cabinet range.