Best Practice Tips for Chemical and Flammable Liquid Safety Cabinets
Eagle safety cabinets are specially designed and engineered to safely store a wide range of potentially hazardous liquids, including chemicals and flammable liquids. While “flammable liquids” may seem like a rather generic term, it absolutely is not when considering OSHA regulations – specifically, those which govern their storage.
Eagle safety cabinets allow users to store chemicals / flammable liquids in purpose-built enclosures that provide a high degree of protection to personnel and assets, as well as ensure regulatory compliance.
Features of Eagle Chemical / Flammable Liquid Safety Cabinets
A chemical / flammable liquid safety cabinet is designed with a variety of features that enable it to house volatile liquids safely. According to OSHA standard 1910.106(d)(3) (Design, construction, and capacity of storage cabinets) and NFPA 30 (Flammable and Combustible Liquids) requirements, these safety cabinets must incorporate specific design features that protect the contents in the event it is exposed to fire.
All safety cabinets from Eagle share design specifications that provide a high degree of protection from the effects of fire in accordance with regulatory requirements. Eagle safety cabinets are available in a variety of sizes to suit individual needs—from 2- to 110-gallon capacities. They are constructed with compliant reinforced double-steel walls that provide maximum protection from fire, as well as isolation from external ignition sources.
Additionally, Eagle storage cabinets feature a lead-free, high-gloss powder coat finish, continuous piano hinges, and a grounding connection. Their four adjustable legs make level placement easy on virtually any surface. The cabinets are supplied with trilingual warning labels, as well as a leak-tested sill to mitigate spills.
Flammable Liquids Regulations
OSHA standard 1910.106(a)(19) is very specific as to which chemicals fall under their definition of flammable liquid: “any liquid having a flashpoint at or below 199.4 °F (93 °C).” Think: acetone, benzene, hexane, diethyl ether, ethanol, methanol, and of course hydrocarbons such as gasoline, kerosene, and diesel fuel. OSHA then mandates that said flammable liquids be stored in very specific ways, including when in storage cabinets (1910.106(d)(3)). For purposes of this article, the use of “chemical” is intended to refer to any chemical which meets OSHA’s aforementioned definition of “flammable liquid.”
Both OSHA and NFPA have definitions for liquids that burn. As referenced above, OSHA delineates these only as “flammable liquids,” while NFPA differentiates between flammable and combustible liquids. OSHA uses “categories” to classify flammable liquids, while NFPA uses “classes” of flammable and combustible liquids.
To help you navigate the differences, we’ve provided a side-by-side comparison of the two below. But before proceeding to the table, it is important to understand a couple of definitions.
Even OSHA and NFPA differ slightly on this definition. Generally speaking, “flashpoint” is the minimum temperature that a liquid produces sufficient vapors that if an ignition source—such as a spark—is applied, the vapor will flash but not continue to burn. In short, it is the minimum temperature at which a liquid becomes dangerous.
This definition is a little more technical. “Boiling point” is the temperature at which the atmospheric pressure exerted on a liquid is equal to the pressure applied by the vapor of the liquid. In this situation, additional heat causes the liquid to turn into vapor without raising the temperature of the liquid.
Using water as an example, when it reaches 212°F (100°C), the pressure from steam overtakes the pressure pushing back from the atmosphere (14.7 psi), and the water continues to turn into steam without its temperature increasing despite continued heating. In simplest terms, the lower the boiling point, the more volatile the liquid.
OSHA and NFPA utilize both above properties—flashpoint and boiling point—to categorize flammable liquids (and combustible, by NFPA) as set out in the table below.
OSHA also has requirements (1926.152(b)(3)) relative to the amount of flammable liquids that can be stored in one place. If more than 25 gallons is to be stored in a single storage space (specifically, a room), they must be stored in an approved storage cabinet. If you are dealing with Category 1, 2, and/or 3 flammable liquids, then no more than 60 gallons can be stored in any one cabinet, and no more than 120 gallons of a Category 4. (If these quantities are exceeded, storage must be in an indoor storage room, which has its own separate requirements.)
NOTE: Authorities having jurisdiction (local authorities) and/or insurance carriers may require that flammable storage cabinets be utilized for lesser quantities of flammable liquids than that required by OSHA.
Flammable Cabinet Storage
Safety Cabinet Placement
Both OSHA standard 1910.106(d)(5)(i) (Hazardous Materials / Flammable Liquids) and 1926.152(a)(2) (Fire Protection and Prevention / Flammable Liquids) restrict where flammable liquids—including those stored in safety cabinets—can be placed / stored inside a building: away from exits, stairways, or areas normally used for “the safe passage of people.” Further, no more than three flammable liquid safety cabinets can be located in a single storage area (1926.152(b)(3)).
Other Best Practices Tips for Safe Storage of Flammable Liquids
As with any and all occupations or activities that involve any potential for accident, injury, or property damage, one should never limit safety measures simply to what the law requires. We all should always strive for safety competence, not merely safety compliance.
Several additional “best practices” regarding chemical safety cabinets can be gleaned from OSHA’s Appendix A to Standard Number 1910.1450 (National Research Council Recommendations Concerning Chemical Hygiene in Laboratories (Non-Mandatory)):
- Perform risk assessments for hazardous chemicals prior to use / storage.
- Institute a chemical hygiene program designed to minimize accidents, injuries, and/or incidents of any kind.
- Separate and store chemicals according to hazard category and compatibility.
- Chemical safety cabinets should be grounded.
- Despite the protections afforded by a chemical safety cabinet, common sense dictates that they be placed away from potential ignition sources (e.g., smoking areas, electrical panels, heat-producing equipment, etc.).
- Access to chemical storage cabinets should be controlled/limited.
Chemical Storage and Handling Equipment That is Right, and Best, for You
Eagle-Manufacturing is an industry leader in the storage and handling of dangerous liquids. We are a global supplier of regulatory-compliant equipment to safely store chemicals and flammable liquids. Eagle’s line of safety cabinets also provides a best safety practice solution for your storage needs. With the protection of your personnel and assets at stake, why not safeguard them with the highest degree of chemical and flammable liquid storage security available.
This guide regarding safety cabinet features, use, and applicable regulations is intended for reference only. It is not a substitute for the user clearly understanding the nature and proper storage factors of the flammable liquids present at their facilities and/or the regulations concerning them.