Organizing Your Storage Unit

Tips To Help You Follow Regulations For Safely Storing Flammable Liquids At Work

Any type of liquid that creates vapors that can explode when they are exposed to heat at or below 199.4 degrees F is considered flammable and needs to be stored following OSHA's regulations. These guidelines are to prevent fire hazards at your work in areas where a large quantity of flammable liquids are kept. Here are some of these guidelines for storing your flammable liquids at work.

Liquids Considered Flammable

Flammable liquids are broken down into four different categories according to the flashpoint of each. The flashpoint is the temperature at which the liquid's vapor can ignite in the air. Category one flammable liquids include liquids that have a flashpoint of less than 73.4 degrees F and a boiling point at or below 95 degrees F. This includes acetone, ethanol, motor and aviation gasoline, isopropyl alcohol, mineral spirits, lacquers and lacquer thinners, turpentine, and some paints. 

Category two flammable liquids include diesel fuel, kerosene, motor oil, and paint thinner. These types of liquids have a flashpoint of below 73.4 degrees F and a boiling point above 95 degrees F. 

Category three flammable liquids include mineral oil, cooking oil, and oil based paints. Category three liquids are not considered as dangerous as the lower category liquids as they have a higher flashpoint. The flashpoint of category three liquids is between 73.4 degrees F and 140 degrees F.

Storage Cabinet Requirements

You can store your flammable liquids in a properly designed metal or wooden storage cabinet. But make sure you don't store more than 60 combined gallons of class one and two liquids, or more than 120 gallons of class three liquids. Then, if you need more than one storage cabinet to store flammable liquids, you cannot keep more than three cabinets in one room. 

The exterior of a metal cabinets needs to be made from number 18-gauge sheet metal and the exterior walls should be double layered with 1 1/2-inches of space between each wall layer. A wooden cabinet needs to be made from an exterior grade of plywood that is at least one inch in thickness. The plywood also needs to hold up under a standard 10-minute fire test. During this test the internal temperature stays below 325 degrees F and the exterior walls and doors of the cabinet need to remain closed and in place as to not buckle or warp, creating openings or gaps.

Rules for Storing Without a Cabinet

If you don't have a storage cabinet for flammable liquids and you have a small amount of flammable liquids, you can still safely store these without using a storage cabinet. Because you have a smaller amount of flammable liquids, they are less likely to catch on fire or explode. You can store approved containers containing five gallons or less of flammable liquids, but make sure you don't have more than a total of 25 gallons in one room of your building. And you can keep a liquid in its original non-approved container if there is less than one gallon remaining in the container. Remember to not keep any containers stored in an exit, stairwell, or other area where employees walk. 

You can also store the flammable liquids outside your building, but they have to be at least 20 feet away from the building and you have to provide an area for emergency vehicles to use in case of an fire or explosion. So, leave a 12 foot-wide driveway area that fire trucks can use to access the flammable liquids. This driveway needs to be within 200 feet of your liquids. 

After you have build the driveway, you can store as much flammable liquids outside your building that you need to, as long as you don't stack more than 1,100 gallons together and each separate container cannot contain more than 60 gallons. After one stack of liquids reaches 1,100 gallons, you can make a separate stack of liquids at least five feet away. The 5-foot area between each stack needs to be clear to help control a fire from spreading if a stack of flammable liquids ignites.

Use these guidelines to keep your flammable liquid storage safe at work. You can also click here for info on heavy duty storage cabinets.