Last week, we blogged about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) guidelines for storing flammable liquids in the workplace. Properly storing flammable is critical to creating a safe working environment for all employees, as hundreds of commercial fires are started each year as a result of flammable liquids being exposed to sources of heat. But this week we’re going to expand on this subject by revealing some helpful tips on how to ventilate flammable liquid storage cabinets.
Is Ventilation Required?
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) does not require employers to ventilate their flammable liquid storage cabinets for fire protection purposes. In fact, forcing manufacturers to ventilate their cabinets could actually increase the risk of a fire by exposing the contents to heat. The primary objective of a flammable liquid storage cabinet is to protect its contents from a fire on the outside. If the cabinet is ventilated, a flame, spark or ember could potentially enter the cabinet and set ablaze its contents.
Vent Storage Cabinets Outside
NFA Code 18.104.22.168 states the following about ventilated flammable liquid storage cabinets: “If vented for whatever reason, the storage cabinet vent openings shall be ducted directly to outdoors in such a manner that will not compromise the specific performance of the cabinet and in a manner that is acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.”
If the flammable liquid storage cabinet contains vents but the owner does not wish to use them, he or she may close them off using the supplied bungs. Allowing vents to remain open without running them outside increases the risk of a fire, which is the opposite of the desired goal of a storage cabinet. The bottom line is that flammable liquid storage cabinets should either be closed off or vented outside.
When Should I Vent a Flammable Liquid Storage Cabinet?
While there’s no federal law or regulation requiring the ventilation of flammable liquid storage cabinets, local state and city officials may have their own laws in place requiring ventilation of storage cabinets. Always check with the local jurisdiction to determine whether ventilation is required.
Here are some tips to help you determine if ventilation is required:
- Contact the local Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) officer.
- Identify each chemical currently being stored in the cabinet.
- Talk with your insurance company to see if they have more information on local laws regarding flammable liquid storage cabinet ventilation.
- Contact the local Fire Marshal’s office.
- Test the air quality around the cabinet.