The dangers of flammable liquids aren’t always top of mind. Many don’t understand the dangers of storing these materials improperly and they don’t equate flammable with fire hazard.
This lack of knowledge can have serious consequences, resulting in fires, explosions and severe injuries. “I remember one extreme situation years ago, when a major disaster resulted when procedures for handling solvents were lax. Video of the resulting fire and explosions showed 55-gallon drums flying through the air,” said Senior Risk Control Specialist Steve Davidson, with EMC. While not all flammable liquid emergencies are this dramatic, there can be severe consequences for carelessness or lack of proper handling and storage.
Where Dangers Lurk
Some of the dangers are not well understood by those who are in contact with flammable liquids. Here are a few hazards that are often overlooked:
Take these steps to prevent disasters from happening at your workplace.
Compressed Gas Cylinders
Mishandling compressed gas cylinders can create serious consequences for welding operators or other nearby personnel. These cylinders can release their hazardous contents or become dangerous projectiles. If the neck of a pressurized cylinder accidentally broke off, the energy released is sufficient to propel the cylinder to over 30 mph in a fraction of a second. The following are safety precautions for the use and storage of compressed gas cylinders.
Damaged cylinders, cylinders that are leaking or cylinders with unknown contents should be returned to the manufacturer immediately. Always have the appropriate Safety Data Sheet (SDS) readily available and be familiar with the health, flammability and reactivity hazards for each gas used by your organization.
Cylinders must be properly labeled, including the gas identity and appropriate hazards (e.g., health, flammability, reactivity). Color-coding of cylinders cannot be used to indicate the contents because the color codes differ among suppliers. With no set industry color standard, only the gas identity and hazard labels should be used to identify the contents.
Recommended guidelines for cylinder storage:
Before cylinders are moved, you must remove regulators, close valves, and put protective valve caps in place (unless cylinders are secured on a special cart). Regulators must also be removed when work is completed and when cylinders are empty.