Flammable Liquids Safety – The Five Basics You need to Know

Keeping Your Employees Safe from Flammable Liquids

When working in a facility where flammable liquids are present, it is essential that you take safety seriously. Having a well thought out flammable liquids safety strategy in place that everyone is aware of can help to prevent major accidents.

Facilities that use this type of thing typically use it in large quantities, which means that if there is any type of accident, it is likely to be quite severe. With this in mind, take some time to go over the safety procedures surrounding flammable liquids in your facility. If necessary, update them or provide additional training to the people working with or around these liquids.

To start with, review the following five basics you need to know about flammable liquids safety and make sure that they are all properly addressed in your safety strategy.

5 Things You Should Know about Flammable Liquids

1. Flammable Liquids Labels

One of the most important things that you must do when you have flammable liquids in your facility is ensure that everyone knows that they are there. From the moment they arrive at the workplace, it is essential that they are clearly marked. If the liquids are moved into another container, that container must also be marked.

The best way to do this is to have an industrial label maker (which can be found here) on site. With it, you can print off custom labels that will have the standard warning information on it. These labels can be quickly made and applied to all containers that are used to store flammable liquids.

When creating these safety labels, some key points to make sure are on them would include:

  • Flammable Warning – The first thing that should be printed on these labels is the word flammable, or another word that indicates that the liquid can burn or explode.
  • Name of the Liquid – List the name of the liquid so people will be aware of what it is.
  • Flash Point – The flash point of the liquid is the point at which the vapors or gasses from the liquids will ignite.
  • Fire Point – This is the temperature where the liquid begins giving off vapors.

You can choose other information that should be put on the labels as well to help ensure the best flammable liquids safety possible.

2. Fire Suppression Requirements

Not surprisingly, having the proper fire suppression systems in place will be an important part of flammable liquids safety. This isn’t necessarily as simple as just making sure your normal facility fire suppression system is working, or even having a general fire extinguisher is in the area though.

Many flammable liquids require very specific types of fire suppression in order to be effective. In addition, there must be enough of it to fully put out a fire quickly. Whenever you have a flammable liquid coming in to your facility, it is essential to make sure that you also have the proper equipment to put out any fires already on hand. According to uconn.edu – 

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) defines a flammable liquid as having a flash point of not more than 93°C (199.4°F). The flash point is the minimum temperature at which a liquid gives off vapor in sufficient concentration to form an ignitable mixture with air near the surface of the liquid.  

3. Flammable Liquids Storage

In most facilities it will be necessary to store flammable liquids on site for extended periods of time. In many cases this can be extremely dangerous because people forget that they need to take steps to keep it safe.

For example, if you store a container of liquid in a storage closet, you need to make sure that the temperature is at a safe and stable level. It is essential to know that it won’t get too hot in the area during the summer, or too cold in the winter. Taking the time to really evaluate the storage area for safety is an important part of flammable liquids safety.

Remember, even a small amount of these liquids can start a big fire quite quickly. With this in mind, the storage must be well planned out to ensure that it is safe, and that if a fire does take place it can be contained and extinguished as quickly as possible.

4. Identify Ignition Sources

Any area where this type of liquid is used or stored must be evaluated for ignition sources. An ignition source is anything in the facility that can cause the liquid to catch on fire. Some common examples could be open flames, sparks, hot machines, pressurized areas, people smoking, built up static electricity, engines or motors, welding torches and many others.

Before ever bringing any type of flammable liquid into an area it must be completely evaluated for this type of hazard. Keep in mind that with many of these types of liquids it only takes a fraction of a second to ignite the liquid, and the fire or explosion can spread extremely quickly.

It may not always be easy to pinpoint these sources of ignition ahead of time, but it is essential that you do it properly. Go through with a digital thermometer and look for hot spots, for example, and see if any of them get hot enough to cause the materials to ignite.

Remember, however, that you need to identify how hot things can get, not just how hot they are at one point during the day. Many machines, for example, can have an operating temperature that ranges by hundreds of degrees.

5. Training & Notifications

No matter what you do when it comes to flammable liquids safety, however, it won’t help if you don’t train the employees on how to safely use these liquids. Of course, those who work with the liquids most frequently will need the most in depth training, but just about everyone in the facility should have at least a basic understanding of the dangers.

Making this a part of your normal training routine is a great idea. It will help to ensure everyone is aware of the risk, and also how to respond in the event of an emergency.

Beyond the training, however, you also need to make sure everyone is aware when flammable liquids are being used in an area. Of course, the safety labels (similar to these) mentioned above are a good start, but it can be helpful to go further than that.

Putting up signs (which can be purchased here) at the entrance to rooms where these liquids are in use will help ensure nobody walks in with hot items, or does anything else that could put people or the facility in danger. In some locations the signs can remain up all the time, but in others they can be put up and taken down as needed to ensure everyone is safe.

The more information you provide to your employees the easier it will be to keep everyone safe whenever they are working with or around flammable liquids.

Ongoing Improvements

While the above five items are extremely important, they are only the beginning when it comes to flammable liquids safety. The facility must make the effort to constantly evaluate how and where these liquids are being used, and what can be done to make the environment safer.

When it comes to working with this type of liquid, you want to do everything possible to improve safety before there is an actual incident. The fact is, flammable liquids can be extremely dangerous and you may not get a chance to make improvements after an accident. One fire can quickly burn an entire facility to the ground and put everyone’s lives at significant risk.

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