Due to the widespread use and destructive history of flammable and combustible liquids, these chemicals, their storage, handling and management are closely regulated by several federal agencies.

A practical compliance and risk reduction program is key to help you identify potential environmental, health and safety risks associated with flammable liquids handling, use and storage in the workplace, as well as to determine the best compliance solutions to limit these risks.

Proper management of these chemicals can help eliminate millions of dollars of facility damage, protect personnel, improve workplace efficiencies, meet federal, state and local fire codes and comply with federal OSHA regulations.

Best safety practices include simple operational questions related to meeting certain regulatory or safety requirements. Here is a sampling of these requirements and related best safety practices for containment, liquid handling, assessment, waste management and safety storage of flammable liquids:

Flammable and other hazardous liquids require a containment system that will contain at least 10 percent of the total volume of containers or 100 percent of the largest container, whichever is greater.

Most flammable liquids flow easily. A small spill can cover a large area of workbench or floor. Burning liquids can flow under doors, down stairs, and even into neighboring buildings, spreading fire widely. Materials like wood, cardboard and cloth can easily absorb flammable and combustible liquids. Even after a spill has been cleaned up, a dangerous amount of liquid could still remain in surrounding materials, continuing to give off hazardous vapors.

In the event of a spill, even a contained one, all personnel in the area should be alerted and all ignition sources controlled.

Use only approved safety containers to store or transfer flammable liquids. Do not use or store flammable liquids near any ignition sources. Never fill a container completely or pour flammables down a drain. Minimize the amount of flammable and combustible liquids in the workplace and label all containers with contents ID labels and “flammable liquids” labels.

Proper flammable liquids management requires an initial investigation or evaluation of the workplace to identify and define what these hazards are and where they exist. A proper facility, chemical and waste assessment builds the foundation of knowledge required to implement the necessary compliance and safety evaluation effectively.

Waste management is mainly a matter of good housekeeping. It’s required to decrease the potential exposure associated with the handling and temporary storage of flammable chemical wastes. Approved waste containers should be used to dispose of solvent laden rags or wipes and the contents should be disposed of properly each day.

Always store safety containers in an approved safety cabinet when not in use. As a general rule, no more than 10 gallons of flammable liquids should be outside of safety cabinets, especially if not in approved containers. Store flammable liquids in cool, well-ventilated areas, away from corrosives, oxidizers and ignition sources. Flammable liquids should not be stored in basements, near exit doorways, stairways, in exit corridors or in a location that would impede egress from the building.