Flammable Liquids: Proceed with Caution

Flammable liquids are just what the name implies, they are flammable and can be easily set on fire. In our homes, there are many different flammable liquids or substances. From a gasoline filled storage can in the garage to a bottle of oven cleaner resting in a cupboard, these substance can pose real fire hazards when the right conditions present themselves. If you take the time to think about it, there are flammable substances in use and in storage nearly everywhere. However, when these types of flammable substances are either in use or housed within a work environment OSHA’s Flammable Liquid Standard comes into play.

OSHA’s Flammable Liquid Standard

OSHA has a special standard in place that deals specifically with flammable liquids, this standards is known as 29 CFR 1910.106. However, just recently in 2012 this standards was modified and a few changes were adapted with one of the most significant changes being the change from classes to categories. Despite this change, the goal and vision regarding the safety of employees is the same, to keep employees safe around flammable liquids. Let’s take a closer look at the 2012 change and the applicable categories in place.

According to Ana Ellington at Safety.BLR.com, “OSHA defines a flammable liquid as any liquid having a flashpoint at or below 199.4°F (93°C). Flammable liquids are divided into four categories:

Category 1: Liquids with flashpoints below 73.4°F (23°C) and boiling point at or below 95°F (35°C) (1910.106(a)(19)(i)). Examples: acetaldehyde and ethyl ether.

Category 2: Liquids with flashpoints below 73.4°F (23°C) and boiling points at or above 95°F (35°C) (1910.106(a)(19)(ii)). Examples: acetone, benzene, and toluene.

Category 3: Liquids with flashpoints at or above 73.4°F (23°C) and at or below 140°F (60°C). When a Category 3 liquid with a flashpoint at or above 100°F (37.8°C) is heated for use to within 30°F (16.7°C) of its flashpoint, it must be handled as a Category 3 liquid with a flashpoint below 100°F (37.8 °C) (1910.106(a)(19)(iii)).

Category 4: Includes liquids having flashpoints above 140°F (60°C) and at or below 199.4°F (93°C). When a Category 4 flammable liquid is heated for use to within 30°F (16.7°C) of its flashpoint, it must be handled as a Category 3 liquid with a flashpoint at or above 100°F (37.8°C) (1910.106(a)(19)(iv)).”

How to Safely Store Flammable Liquids

Storing flammable liquids can be tricky, but with the correct storage solutions flammable liquids can pose less of a fire threat. There are two highly recommended ways of storing flammable liquids and they are by either using a specifically designed metal storage cabinet (29 CFR 1910.106(d)(3)(ii)(a)) or a safety can no larger than 5 gallons that meets OSHA standards (29 CFR 1910.106(a)(29)).

Whichever way your facility decides to store flammable liquids, it is imperative that OSHA standards are followed and obeyed in the workplace. These standards are in place to not only reduce the occurrence of a potential fire from flammable liquids, but also to stop the spread of a fire if one should occur.

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