Your number-one responsibility is to keep your workforce safe and injury free. When it comes to the use and storage of flammable liquids, the mandates set forth by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are detailed, specific, and spread out over a number of related agencies and documents.

For detailed information, refer to the requirements in 29 CFR 1910.106. In addition, there are “secondary” standards for fire and flammable liquid safety including emergency plans, evacuation maps and comprehensive fire protection measures. You also need to consider your local fire marshal rules.

A Cooperative Effort

As you coordinate all these efforts, set your safety bar high. Remember, your minimum expectations will always be your employees’ maximum expectations. Get them involved and engaged, and always be sincere in your objective of maintaining a safe work environment.

Here’s a brief, user-friendly summary of OSHA and related materials on safety when working with flammable liquids:

Materials Classifications

Materials are classified as extremely flammable, flammable or combustible based on their ability to create vapor and flash, or ignite, at certain temperatures. This is known as their flashpoints.

  • Employees must consider the flashpoints of flammable or extremely flammable liquids if using them in high-heat areas. This also applies to areas where there are ignition sources such as welding, cutting, kilns or furnaces.
  • Flammable liquids produce airborne vapors, which can create additional safety hazards. It’s the vapor, not the liquid itself, which burns. In addition to fire-related dangers, many vapors can lead to additional risks including respiratory disorders, various cancers, and eye irritation.

Storage Guidelines

Various quantities of stored flammable liquids are regulated according to a number of factors:

  • Inside versus outside cabinets.
  • The classification of liquids being stored.
  • The amounts of liquids being stored.

In conjunction with fire protection standards, there are limits on the quantity of cabinets you can store together within your facility.

  • In non-sprinkler protected areas, there can be no more than three flammable storage containers within a fire area.
  • Cabinets separated by at least 100 feet may be stored in groups of three for each of those feet.
  • In automatic sprinkler-protected areas, six cabinets may be stored within a fire area.

A fire area is the section of a building separated from the rest of the facility by special construction. It has a fire resistance level of at least one hour. All communicating openings are likewise protected. Flammable storage cabinets must be designed and constructed to meet NFPA 30 requirements.


Ongoing employee training is required to keep your workforce safe as they use and store flammable liquids. This includes fire and evacuation drills, Material Safety Data Sheet familiarity, proper use of extinguishers, and personal protective equipment.

For additional information and resources for keeping your team safe and complying with current OSHA requirements, read our related posts or contact the HR and safety workforce experts at Premium Staffing today.

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