Correct Storage of Flammable Liquids in Your Paint Shop

Correct Storage of Flammable Liquids in Your Paint Shop

Flammable liquids are volatile substances that give off enough flammable vapours to ignite in the presence of an ignition source at temperatures below 60oC. If flammable liquids (including paints) are not managed in a safe and compliant manner, they can be a threat to the workplace. Some of the negative implications that can result from the unsafe storage of flammable liquids include:

  • Damage to business property from fire and explosion
  • Environmental pollution
  • Harm to human health or even death
  • Financial liability due to non-compliance

To avoid the risk of harm to human health, damage to business property and environmental pollution, flammable paints must be stored in line with relevant health and safety regulations. The requirements for the safe storage of flammable paints is outlined in the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). This document is a goal-setting regulation that is supported by Approved Codes of Practice (ACOP). ACOP provide practical detail on how to reach regulatory compliance. The ACOP that must be consulted for the safe storage of flammable liquids in containers is; Storage of flammable liquids in containers - HSG51. This ACOP provides practical detail on how to protect workers from activities associated with the storage of flammable liquids in containers with capacities up to 1000L.

Control measure for the safe storage of flammable liquids

When storing flammable paint in the workplace, it is important that you conduct a risk assessment and adhere to the controls measures that are outlined in the ACOP HSG51. Applying these control measures helps to reduce the risk of harm to human health and financial liability due to non-compliance. The various control measures of HSG51 are outlined below.

Design and construction of containers

The primary controls measure that prevents the release of flammable paints and vapours into the workplace is the paint container. The construction requirements for flammable paint containers according to HSG51 include:

  • The materials that make up the construction of the paint container must be compatible with the chemical properties of the flammable paint.
  • All flammable paints containers must be fitted with a well-equipped cap to prevent the release of flammable vapours or liquids into the workplace.
  • If glass or other fragile containers are used for storing flammable and combustible liquids, the container must be provided with extra protection against impact damage.

Marking and labelling

To warn workers and visitors of the potential risks associated with the flammable paints used in the workplace, flammable paints containers and safety cabinets must be labelled with the correct dangerous goods signage. The signage requirements for flammable paint containers and storage cabinets include:

  • The relevant dangerous goods
  • The signage on flammable paint containers must comply with the CDG and CLP regulations.

Preventing dangerous accumulation of flammable vapours

When flammable paints ignite, it is not the liquids that burn, but the flammable vapours that are dispersed from the liquid. To reduce the risk of fires, flammable paints must be stored in well-ventilated areas. To prevent the accumulation of flammable vapours you must adhere to the following requirements:

  • The locations where flammable paint containers are stored should be suitable to prevent the accumulation of flammable vapours. A good location is an uncongested, unenclosed outdoor area that allows flammable vapours to easily disperse.
  • If outdoor storage of flammable paint is not possible, flammable liquids can be stored indoors in a compliant flammable storage cabinet. When flammable liquids are stored indoors, they must be kept in a well-ventilated location to prevent the build-up of flammable vapours.

Spillage control

If flammable paints spill, it increases the risk of environmental pollution. To reduce the risk of spills, all flammable paint storage facilities must have a spill containment sump. The spill containment requirements for flammable liquids storage facilities include:

  • The base or floor of the storage area must form an impervious liquid-tight sump that has the capacity to hold at least 110% of the volume of the largest container (when the containers are constructed of metal).
  • Plastic containers are especially vulnerable to heat. In the event of a fire, plastic containers can perish in a period of 10 minutes. This must be considered when making provision for spillage containment for plastic containers of flammable paints.

 

Control of potential ignition source

As outlined earlier, it is not the liquid of flammable paints that burn, but the flammable vapours that disperse from the liquid. To reduce the risk of fires, you must prevent the build-up of flammable vapours within liquid storage facilities. This can be done by ensuring that all paint cans and containers are properly sealed before they are stored. However, you must assume that some flammable vapours will escape, and you must have sufficient control measures to avoid the ignition of flammable paints. This can be achieved by ensuring all possible ignition sources are excluded from the area where flammable paints are being stored. Ignition sources come in many different forms. Some ignition sources include:

  • Naked flames
  • Welding and grinding sparks
  • Smoking equipment
  • Electrical lighting
  • Hot surfaces
  • Static electricity

 

Segregation of incompatible substances

If incompatible substances mix, it can result in violent chemical reactions. Substances that react dangerously are those that react in a manner that directly creates a hazard due to the reaction:

  • Producing an explosion
  • Producing fire or the rapid evolution of heat
  • Producing toxic vapours or gases
  • Producing a potentially explosive combination of products

To avoid the risk of violent chemical reactions, flammable paints must be segregation from other incompatible substances. Safe segregation of incompatible substances can be achieved by adhering the segregation requirements that are outlined in the Approved Code of Practice: Chemical warehousing: The storage of packaged dangerous substances HSG71. Combustible materials such as packaging supplies must not be kept in flammable liquids storage facilities. Combustible materials such as cardboard can easily ignite putting the flammable paints within the store at the risk of ignition.

Next Steps

If flammable paints are not stored in a safe and compliant manner, it can result in a number of negative implications. These negative implications can include:

  • Damage to business property
  • Environmental pollution
  • Harm to human health or even death
  • Risk of financial liability due to non-compliance

To reduce the risk of damage to business property, harm to human health and environmental pollution, all flammable paint containers must be stored in full conformance to the ACOP Storage of flammable liquids in containers HSG51. Adherence to the ACOP HSG51 is essential for meeting the regulatory requirements of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). Ultrimax provides a range of safe paint storage solutions that comply with the requirements of DSEAR.

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