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Flammable liquid storage: minimising the risks

09 January 2020

The storage of flammable liquids presents companies with a high risk and potentially catastrophic consequences if neglected, explains Chemstore.

The first step in addressing this risk is to assess if the flammable liquids on site can be substituted for a less flammable/hazardous substance or simply be reduced in volume.

It is accepted that a limited quantity of flammables may need to be stored within the process or work area for practical or production purposes.

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002, requires that employers carry out a risk assessment to protect people from risks to their safety from fires, explosions and similar events in the workplace and also justify the need to store any specific flammable liquid.

As a general rule, the amount of product stored internally should kept at a minimum and not exceed a half day’s or one shift’s worth within the work area or work room.

When not in use flammable liquids stored internally, should be kept in sealed and suitable containers and placed within bunded cabinets with fire-resisting construction. The level of fire resistance of the cabinet and the location selected should be the result of careful assessment.

The remaining essential flammable liquids stored on site would typically be placed externally, within a secure, bunded store with fire resisting construction which is in turn located in a safe location.

A safe location can be determined by looking at the separation of the flammables store from an occupied building, boundary of the property, process unit, flammable liquid storage tank or fixed ignition source.

In the most common scenario, when 1000L–100,000L of flammable liquids are stored, a separation of at least 4m should be attained to ensure a safe location is established.

If a safe area cannot be created on site or is simply unfeasible, the use of a fire rated safety store, typically 1hr rated, can be utilised to successfully minimise the associated risks.

All flammable liquids should be segregated (in both storage and spillage retention areas) from other hazardous substances that may enhance the risk of fire or compromise the integrity of the container or safety store for example segregation from oxidisers or corrosive materials is essential.

Case study: Pure Nails

When professional nail product distributor, Pure Nails, was looking for a storage solution for safely storing Acetone within their factory before it was forwarded for onward distribution, they turned to Chemstore UK.

Acetone, also known as propanone, is a clear, colorless liquid that is highly flammable. It is commonly used as a solvent to manufacture plastics and other industrial products and it is also used in in household products, including cosmetics, in particular within the formulation of nail polish removers.

As Acetone is highly flammable it needed to be housed in a 90minute fire rated structure but it also needed to be easily accessible so orders could be fulfilled quickly and efficiently. 

Account Manager, Stephen Mansell explains: “The Acetone remains within its manufactured sealed containers during the time that Pure Nails handles it so it is unlikely to be the source of a fire, but due to Acetone’s highly flammable nature, it was essential to keep it protected from potential fires started elsewhere within the premises.  The bespoke Firevault was the perfect solution because it ensured when storing Acetone the product could be protected from fire without hindering the company’s operations.”

After undertaking a free flammables storage site assessment Chemstore UK proposed a bespoke Firevault unit which measured 14m long and, rather than housing standard pallet racking, incorporated front and back access for easy loading and unloading of boxes.

Nathan Palmer, Head of Operations, Pure Nails comments:  “From their first site visit through to the design and approval of the Firevault to it arriving and being installed in great condition onsite -  which was a significant undertaking - we were very impressed with both the product and service provided by Chemstore UK.