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The two primary hazards associated with flammable and combustible liquids are explosion and fire.
Safe handling and storage of flammable liquids requires the use of approved equipment and practices per OSHA standards.

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The determining factor in whether a liquid is flammable or combustible is its flashpoint.

Flashpoint:  The minimum temperature at which a liquid gives off enough vapor within a test vessel in sufficient concentration to form an ignitable mixture with air near the surface of the liquid.

Remember, it is the vapors, not the liquid, that Burns!

A chemical’s flashpoint is listed on the MSDS under the Fire and Explosion section.

  • Flash point means the minimum temperature at which a liquid gives off enough vapor to form an ignitable mixture.
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  • In general, the lower the flash point, the greater the hazard.
  • Flammable liquids have flash points below 100 deg. F, and are more dangerous than combustible liquids, since they may be ignited at room temperature.
  • Combustible liquids have flash points at or above 100 deg. F.
    • NFPA Classes II & IIIA & B

  • Although combustible liquids have higher flash points than flammable liquids, they can pose serious fire and/or explosion hazards when heated.
Flammable Liquid Classifications

Any liquid having a flashpoint below 100 deg. F (37.8 deg. C) or higher, the total of which make up 99 percent or more of the total volume of the mixture.  Flammable liquids shall be known as Class I liquids.  Class I liquids are divided into three classes as follows:

  • Class IA - shall include liquids having flashpoints below 73 F (22.8 C) and having a boiling point below 100 F (37.8 C).
  • Class IB - shall include liquids having flashpoints below 73 F (22.8 C) and having a boiling point at or above 100 F (37.8 C).
  • Class IC - shall include liquids having flashpoints at or above 73 F (22.8 C) and below 100 F (37.8 C).
Combustible Liquid Classifications

Any liquid having a flashpoint at or above 100 deg. F (37.8 deg. C).  Combustible liquids shall be divided into two classes as follows:

  • Class II - shall include those with flashpoints at or above 100 F (37.8 C) and below 140 F (60 C), except any mixture having components with flashpoints of 200 F (93.3 C) or higher, the volume of which makes up 99 percent or more of the total volume of the mixture.
  • Class III - shall include those with flashpoints at or above 140 F (60 C).

Class III liquids are subdivided into two subclasses:

  • Class IIIA - shall include those with flashpoints at or above 140 F (60 C) and below 200 F (93.3 C), except any mixture having components with flashpoints of 200 F (93.3 C), or higher, the total volume of which makes up 99 percent or more of the total volume of the mixture.
  • Class IIIB - shall include those with flashpoints at or above 200 F (93.3 C).

Some Flammable Liquids in the Plant:

  • Triethalemine  17 deg. F
  • Barsol A-2316Top Handle White Pearl Female Purse Bag BigHome Bags VT Handmade Beaded Vintage Bag Evening Handbag   54 deg. F
  • Acetone Solvent  -4 deg. F
  • Barsol A-2343  56 deg. F
  • Barsol A-3447  0 deg. F
  • N-Butanol   97 deg. F
  • Sec. Butanol  14 deg. F
  • Glycol EtherHandle Female White Top Handmade Evening BigHome Vintage Beaded Bag Pearl Bags Purse VT Handbag Bag   142 deg. F
    
  • Enamel Reducer  20-73 deg. F
  • Isopropyl Alcohol  53 deg. F
  • Methanol  52 deg. F
  • MEK  16 deg. F
  • Xylene  81 deg. F
  • Toluene  40 deg. F
  • Gasoline Unleaded  -45 deg. F
  • 142 Solvent 66/3  150 F

Reference: "The Firefighter's Handbook of Hazardous Materials", 6th Edition, Charles J. Baker.

Explosive limits involve the concentration level of the given chemical in the air.

In popular jargon, a vapor/air mixture below the flammable limit is too lean to burn or explode.  A mixture above the upper flammable limits is too rich to burn.

Most flammable liquids are volatile, meaning they evaporate quickly, and can reach a concentration in the air that could lead to an explosion.

Lower and Upper Explosive Levels (LEL/UEL)

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BigHome Handle Bags White Bag Evening Vintage Beaded Female Handbag Pearl Bag VT Handmade Top Purse A good plan for safe use of flammable and combustible liquids contains at least these components:
  • Control of the ignition sources.
    • Practice safe handling, storage, fire control and ventilation.
      • Identify sources of ignition.
      • Always use bonding and grounding when transferring flammable liquids into/from containers.
      • Always provide adequate ventilation to reduce the potential for ignition.

  • Proper storage
    • Ensure flammables and combustibles are properly stored.
      • Identify compatible chemicals.
      • Isolate and separate incompatible materials.
      • Ensure storage doesn’t limit safe egress.
      • Store in proper area, cabinet, or container.
      • Label storage areas/cabinets.
      • Store waste and residue in covered containers and dispose of daily.

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    • Ensure proper hoses, fire extinguishers or other fire control devices are available where flammable or combustible liquids are stored.
    • Do not permit flames or smoking in areas where flammable or combustible liquids are stored.
    • Store materials that react with water in a room separate from flammable and combustible liquids.

  • Safe handling
    • Transfer by means of a safety pump.
    • Transfer by gravity through an approved self-closing safety faucet.
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    • Transfer from safety cans.

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Some sources of ignition for flammable and combustible liquids:
  • open flames
  • smoking
  • cutting and welding
  • hot surfaces
  • electrical and mechanical sparks
  • static electricity
  • lightning

Static Electricty        
Bonding        
  • Physically connect two conductive objects together with a bond wire to eliminate a difference in static charge potential between them.
  • You must provide a bond wire between containers during flammable liquid filling operations, unless a metallic path between them is otherwise present
Grounding        
  • Eliminates a difference in static charge potential between conductive objects and the ground.
  • Although bonding will eliminate a difference in potential between objects, it will not eliminate a difference in potential between these objects and earth unless one of the objects is connected to the earth with a ground wire.
Ventilation
  • Vintage Handle White Pearl Evening Handmade Bags Top BigHome VT Female Purse Handbag Beaded Bag Bag Always provide adequate ventilation to reduce the potential for ignition of flammable vapors.

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  • Identify incompatible chemicals – check the Material Safety Data Sheet
  • Isolate and separate incompatible materials
    • Isolate by storing in another area or room.
    • The degree of isolation depends on the quantities, chemical properties and packaging.
    • Separate by storing in the same area or room, but apart from each other.

  • Storage must not limit the use of exits, stairways, or areas normally used for the safe egress of people.
  • In office occupancies:
    • Storage is prohibited except that which is required for maintenance and operation of the equipment.

  • Storage must be in:
    • Closed metal containers inside a storage cabinet.
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    • Inside a storage room.
Safety Cans for Storage and Transfer        
  • Approved container of not more than 5 gallons capacity.
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  • Safely relieves internal pressure when exposed to fire
Flame Arrester Screen        
  • Pearl Bag Beaded BigHome Handle Bag White VT Handmade Top Vintage Evening Handbag Purse Female Bags Prevents fire flashback into the can contents.
  • Double wire-mesh construction.
  • Large surface area provides rapid dissipation of heat from fire so that vapor temperature inside the can remains below ignition point.
Storage Cabinets                 
  • Not more than 60 gallons of Class I and/or Class II liquids, or not more than 120 gallons of Class III liquids are permitted in a cabinet.
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  • The cabinet must be conspicuously labeled, “Flammable - Keep Fire Away”.
  • The doors on the metal cabinets must have a three-point lock (top, side, and bottom), and the door sill must be raised at least 2 inches above the bottom of the cabinet.
Fire Control        
  • Suitable fire control devices, such as a small hose or portable fire extinguishers must be available where flammable or combustible liquids are stored.
  • Open flames and smoking must not be permitted in these storage areas.
  • Materials which react with water must not be stored in the same room with flammable or combustible liquids

Transferring Flammable Liquids

Since there is a sizeable risk whenever flammable liquids are handled, OSHA allows only four methods for transferring these materials:

  1. Through a closed piping system
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  3. From safety cans
  4. By gravity through an approved self-closing safety faucet
  5. By means of a safety pump
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  • Bonding wire between drum and container.
  • Grounding wire between drum and ground.
  • Safety vent in drum.
Safety Pump        
Waste and Residue
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Combustible waste and residue must be kept to a minimum, stored in covered metal receptacles and disposed of daily.


Waste drum with disposal funnel

Safety disposal can

Oily-waste can (self-closing lid)

Safe Handling Fundamentals
  • Carefully read the manufacturer’s label on the flammable liquid container before storing or using it.
  • Practice good housekeeping in flammable liquid storage areas.
  • Clean up spills immediately, then place the cleanup rags in a covered metal container.
  • Only use approved metal safety containers or an original manufacturer’s container to store flammable liquids.
  • Keep the containers closed when not in use and store away from exits or passageways.
  • Use flammable liquids only where there is plenty of ventilation.
  • Keep flammable liquids away from ignition sources such as open flames, sparks, smoking, cutting, welding, etc.
Remember:
  • The two primary hazards associated with flammable and combustible liquids are explosion and fire.

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