The safe and secure storage of flammable liquids is a fundamental issue that needs to be adequately resolved for each warehousing facility keeping these potentially hazardous liquids. After all, the safety of your business, the lives of you and your employees, and the future of your community really depend on it.
The primary and most notable hazards associated with flammable liquids are explosions. The thing is that flammable liquids are hazardous substances because they can produce vapors. When these vapors mix with air, they can reach their flashpoint, ignite, and cause an explosion with catastrophic consequences.
So, suppose you’re planning to store flammable liquids in your warehousing facility. In that case, you must take several important things into account, from complying with industry regulations to the layout of your warehouse. To make things easier for you and equip you with basic knowledge on the matter, below, you can find four tips for the safe storage of flammable liquids within your facility.
To begin with, only containers approved by the OSHA may be used for the safe storage of flammable liquids. Depending on the chemical, container materials could be plastic, metal, or glass. Generally speaking, metal containers are the most widely used in the industry unless metal can adversely affect the container’s contents or the container’s contents could erode the metal container.
For example, if you work with furfurals and wonder how do you store furfurals safely, know that they should be securely stored in metal safety containers and placed in specialized flammable liquid safety cabinets where they should be held until used for a variety of applications. In addition, the right container size is equally important. Just as crucial as the containers themselves are the labels that should go on them.
Before putting any safety and health protocols in place, you also need to obtain more information about the flammable liquids you’re about to store in your facility. To do that, the National Fire Protection Association classifies all flammable liquids based on their flash points, a list that you should read through and keep during your storage operation.
Basically, a flash point is the lowest temperature at which a substance produces a sufficient amount of vapors to form an air-vapor mixture that can be easily ignited. Based on the NFPA’s guidelines, flammable liquids have a flash point of under 100 °F, while all combustible liquids have a flash point at or above 100 °F. So it’s pretty evident that the lower the substance’s flash point is, the easier the vapors can ignite.
Knowing the flash points of the flammable liquids that you keep in your warehousing facility is essential because how carefully you control the environment around the substances plays a vital role in flammable liquids not reaching their flash points and posing hazards to the environment.
Besides ensuring that all flammable liquids in your facility are stored correctly in OSHA-approved containers, these containers must also be grounded to downplay the risk for static electricity. Static electricity can trigger an explosion or fire by raising the vaporing temperature to above the flash point.
In that manner, investigators detected that static electricity was the leading cause of a fire and series of explosions in 2007 at a Des Moines, Iowa, chemical distribution facility. Poor electrical bonding and grounded sparked static electricity were the leading cause of this accident as employees filled a portable steel tank with ethyl acetate, causing a costly mistake for the company as it was fined more than $1 million in civil penalties.
In addition, containers filled with flammable liquids should always be away from doorways, free of lakes or deterioration, and away from any potential ignition sources. These sources include open flames, sparks from electrical tools, or incinerators.
If you’ve met the maximum amount of flammable liquid allowed in a specific category under OSHA regulations, or if a volatile liquid is no longer needed, then you need to move those liquids from your warehouse to disposal sites. To achieve that, make sure that you select a certified hazardous waste disposal company that will securely dispose of your waste, and consider how you want that waste to contribute to your company’s sustainability goals. After all, just because the flammable liquid is no longer needed on your site doesn’t mean that your responsibility for what happens to that waste ends.
Now that you have a better understanding of how to store flammable liquids within your warehousing facility, make sure to take the appropriate measures and protect your employees, company, and community by following OSHA’s regulations regarding the safe storage of flammable liquids.
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