The use and storage of flammable liquids are regulated by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). Working with flammable liquids is just part of a normal work week for many businesses.
Over the course of their careers, workers will be exposed to a wide range of flammable liquids. And if these liquids are mishandled or stored incorrectly, they can be hazardous. Flammable liquids will catch fire and easily burn at normal working temperatures.
One preventive measure to ensure safety is to keep flammable liquids in secure Flammable Liquids Cabinets.
Dangers of Working with Flammable Liquids and Chemicals.
With flammable liquids, the important factor to consider when working with these materials is knowing their flash points to prevent them from causing harm.
Note that all the commonly used liquid chemicals listed below can pose health hazards when they are inhaled, comes in contact with skin, or ingested accidentally, which brings with it various causes and effects.
Acetone is a common and essential solvent that is used both as a cleaning agent. Dermatologists also use acetone mixed with alcohol to peel off dry skin when treating acne. Due to its strong dissolving property, it is also used to remove superglue from glass and porcelain.
The colourless substance is flammable and volatile with an extremely low flash point of -17.8 °C, which means it may potentially ignite at room temperature. Acetone is advised to be stored indoors away from direct heat sources and stored in Flammable Liquids Cabinets that comply with AS1940-2017.
Benzene is a colourless liquid with an aromatic odour, and is used as a precursor in the production of medicines, plastics, oil, synthetic rubber, and dyes. The substance is highly flammable and burns with a sooty flame. Benzene’s flash point sits at a chilly -11.1 °C.
Benzene’s extremely low flash point dictates it should be stored in Flammable Liquids Cabinets that comply with AS 1940-2017.
In addition to its clear, colourless appearance, ethanol has a pleasant odour and a bitter taste. It is used as a topical agent and pharmaceutical preparations in the prevention of skin infections, rubbing compounds, lotions, tonics, cologne, cosmetics, and in perfumes. Diluted ethanol is also used in alcoholic drinks.
It is also a prime ingredient in making many chemical compounds, lacquers, plastics, and plasticizers, and a host of other items.
Ethanol’s flash point is 16.6 °C, which is just below room temperature and should be used and stored in well-ventilated areas.
Methanol is another colourless liquid that has an odour similar to ethyl alcohol. It can form explosive mixtures when combined with air.
The substance is used in the production of antifreeze, solvent, and as fuel and used to denature alcohol and as an intoxicant in alcoholic beverages.
Its flash point sits between 11 and 12 °C, and is advised to be stored in cool and dry locations away from electrical equipment. It is also recommended to store it in grounded storage and tanks, and ensure that it is clearly labelled as toxic and flammable.
Petrol can ignite and burn easily. It is highly volatile and can create combustible vapours in mixture with air, and can easily ignite from a spark.
Its primary use is in fuels that power most engines and equipment. Petrol’s flash point is at a low of -43 °C, which means extreme care must be taken when storing this flammable liquid.
It is recommended to store petrol in a location away from your main residence or place of business and locked in a chemical storage container and/or Outdoor Dangerous Good Storage to minimise any associated hazards.
Diesel is another item that is obtained by the distillation of crude oil. The combustible liquid is used to power mechanical engines such as those in trucks, trains, boats, and barges that help in transporting nearly all products that people consume.
Although diesel possess a high flash point ranging from 52° to 96° C, high enough to be non-flammable in most environments, it still requires careful storage and safety.
Gasoline is a mixture of volatile hydrocarbons that can vaporise at room temperature. Gasoline is primarily used as fuel, but is also used as solvent for oils and fats. Its high combustion and ability to mix with air make it a preferred automobile fuel.
Gasoline has a flash point that sits at about -45 °C. It is highly more combustible than kerosene. Store in airtight containers away from heat sources, at room temperature, and away from heat sources.
Acetaldehyde is a colourless and flammable liquid that has a suffocating smell. It is non-corrosive to most metals, but it has a narcotic action that can cause mucous irritation.
It is widely used in the manufacture of perfumes, drugs, acetic acid, as flavouring agent in food, dyes, etc. Prolonged exposure is toxic, and is significantly more potent than ethanol.
Acetaldehyde has a flash point of -37.8 °C and is extremely flammable. It should not be exposed to open flames, sparks, or hot surfaces. It should be stored in dark, tightly closed containers under cool and fireproof conditions with the addition of an inhibitor in well-ventilated areas.
Cyclohexane is a colourless liquid with a distinct scent. It is used for industrial purposes in the production of nylon. It is also used in household detergents, calorimetry instruments, and can also be found in many lab equipments.
This highly flammable liquid has a flash point of -20 °C. As with any chemical, exposure to it can be fatal.
Cyclohexane should be stored in cool, dry conditions in well sealed containers, away from fire hazards. It should be stored in detached outside storage and separate from incompatible materials. Furthermore, it is also advised that its containers are bonded and grounded for transfers to avoid static sparks.
Pentane appears as a volatile, colourless, and flammable liquid with a petroleum-like odour. It has numerous industrial uses, such as a blowing agent used to create foam known as polystyrene. Polystyrene is used as insulation materials for refrigerators and heating pipes.
Pentane has a low flash point of -49 °C. Its vapour is heavier than air, which means it can accumulate and travel along the ground. It can cause an explosion with heat and reacts with strong oxidants. It can also react with some forms of plastic, rubber, and coatings.
Pentane should be stored in fireproof containers and away from strong oxidants. It should also be stored in an area away from drains or sewer access. Storage compartments should be grounded to prevent build-up of electrostatic charges.
Paints, varnishes, lacquers, cleaning solutions, and perfumes are all commonly made using ethyl acetate as a solvent. Despite its colourlessness, the liquid has a fruity, sweet smell that most people like.
Ethyl acetate is extremely flammable with a flash point of -4 °C and is also highly miscible with all common organic solvents.
Store ethyl acetate only in approved and secure flammable storage cabinets away from all possible sources of ignition. It is highly sensitive to moisture, it should be kept in a cool, dry, and well ventilated area in sealed containers.
Safety Storage Solutions
Working with flammable liquids, especially in major industries, cannot be helped, but the proper storage and handling of these substances can minimise the risk of accidents and health hazards from happening.
At Wholesale Safety Storage Australia (WSSA), we supply Indoor Flammable Liquids Storage Cabinets and Outdoor Dangerous Goods Storage, that are capable of storing Class 3 Flammable Liquids that complies with AS 1940-2017, and constructed to meet the requirements of AS2312-2014.
Get in touch with us today and support Australian made safety storage solutions, made for Australian conditions.