Many modern chemical processing and industrial businesses need to use flammable liquids on a daily basis. The dangers to this practice are obvious – as many of the vapours from some of these liquids, such as petrol and many solvents, are actually explosive. By keeping these substances safely stored within the appropriate containment units the risks associated with them can be minimized. What are the regulations concerning such storage units, and what kinds of storage units are available?
Health and Safety Risk Assessments
Businesses have to undergo a health and safety risk assessment to determine what kind of flammable liquid storage is appropriate to their business. Every possible factor within a workplace needs to be considered including:
- Types of flammable liquid – The properties of the flammable substances that are to be used within a business must be examined and a worse case scenario mentality applied. For instance, if a number of flammable chemicals are stored in a cabinet then it is the material with the lowest flashpoint that should dictate the material this cabinet is made from.
- Workroom metrics – The size of the workshop and the number of people in it who are likely to work with flammable liquids at any given moment, as well as the quantities of liquid that could be released in the event of a spill or a breakage.
- Ignition sources – What could cause an ignition within the workplace? From welding units through to mobile phones and light switches – it is vital that flammable liquids are isolated at all times away from any potential fire risks.
- Training – Are the staff all aware of the risks of using flammable liquids and how they must be stored? It is the responsibility of the business to make sure that all their employees understand how to use the storage facilities and more importantly, that there is a procedure in place for shutting and locking the flammable liquid storage in the event of a fire.
- Ventilation – If the flammable liquids stored within a unit are known to evolve dangerous explosive vapour there may be a need for the unit to be adequately ventilated, so that in the event of a breakage or spill a build of gas is prevented.
Types of Flammable Liquid Storage Units
There are a number of different flammable liquid storage units available to modern business and companies. These vary in their size and construction, but there are a number of regulations that cover all units regardless of their capacity. Most of these concern the ability of the containment to withstand fire in the event of an emergency - they have to be able to resist flames of up to 750° C for up to half an hour and there must be no gaps between the doors and the frames.
Flat Top Bins
Flat top bins are the ideal for businesses that are looking to store petrol or diesel on their own premises, such as farms or engineering companies. These easy to use, lockable cupboards grant employees quick and easy access to the liquids stored inside, allowing them to refuel vehicles or machines with the minimum amount of hassle. As the lids are on top of these units, it is difficult for the box to be left open and the materials inside will only be exposed whilst the contents is being accessed, ensuring that the container is almost always shut.
Mobile Storage Containers
In industrial businesses where multiple workers may require access to the same flammable liquid, mobile storage containers are the optimal solution. They are constructed to the same standards as static storage units with casters to allow for easy movement about the business workspace. This allows workers to quickly access flammable liquids without the need to carry bottles or jars around the workplace, which increases the chances of a hazard occurring.
Laboratories within larger businesses may want to use large, lockable cabinets for their flammable liquids. These strong boxes are usually fitted with a number of shelves allowing a large number of different bottles to be stored within the unit. They are perfect for workplaces where a small number of workers need to use a wide variety of different chemicals, compounds and reagents – allowing easy and relaxed access, where the cupboard can be locked each time a container is used.
Flammable Liquid Storage Containers
One of the safest ways to store flammable liquids is in a separate, external unit that is removed from the main workspace. This means that if there is a fire emergency on the business premises then the flammable liquids are all in one place, which can easily be isolated by fire crews. The most common types of containers are walk in units that are made out of incredibly strong, fire-proof metals that can contain large amounts of different sized containers. These units are completely sealed, allowing them to withstand the required amount of heat and fire under health and safety regulations, and usually come complete with special sumps built into the floor as a secondary containment unit to deal with any kinds of spills or breakages. Such storage units are perfect for large labs and chemical processing units where there’s a real danger of accidents happening within the business workspace.