Approved safety cans, as required by OSHA, are found in many different industries and facilities. They provide a safe and convenient method of moving, dispensing, or temporarily storing up to 5 gallons of flammable liquids.
Safety cans also guard against potential fires and explosions by controlling flammable vapors. Most flammable chemicals aren’t volatile in liquid form. The danger comes from the vapors. Once at or above its flash point, an increased chance of a dangerous explosion exists.
To prevent such incidents, safety cans for flammable liquids are designed to handle the hazards, and must meet various federal standards and regulations. Failure do so can be costly. OSHA fined a soap and shampoo manufacturer in Cortland, NY, more than $100,000 for violations. The inspection revealed incorrect usage, storage and labeling of flammable chemicals. Employees were also inadequately trained in the use of dangerous chemicals.
Navigating the applicable codes and regulations for handling flammable liquids can be confusing. But, that’s no excuse for non-compliance. Here’s a quick run-down of the different regulatory agencies and standards for safety container compliance.
Flammable Liquid Storage Requirements for Safety Cans: OSHA 29 CFR 1910
Congress established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the Department of Labor as part of the OSHA Act of 1970. Its responsibilities include making sure employers comply with regulations developed to protect employees from workplace hazards.
The OSHA 1910.106 standard governs handling, storing and using flammable liquids. It details four categories of flammable liquids based on their properties (e.g. flash point). It defines a safety can as follows:
"Safety can shall mean an approved container, of not more than 5 gallons capacity, having a spring-closing lid and spout cover and so designed that it will safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure."
OSHA also dictates the design and construction of safety cans. Store flammable liquids with a flashpoint at or below 80 F (27 C) in red safety cans. Include a yellow band around the container to identify the contents.
OSHA requires all businesses or commercial enterprises to use Type I or Type II safety cans. Type I cans have a single opening for filling and dispensing. Type II cans have separate openings for each. A small diameter hose for dispensing allows users to pour into narrow openings without spilling.
Flammable Liquid Storage Requirements for Safety Cans: NFPA Code 30
Formed in 1896, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a leading global advocate for protecting human life and property from fire-related hazards. Like OSHA, the NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code classifies flammable liquids by their flashpoints. But because it is a fire code, it also defines combustible liquids.
The NFPA definition of a safety can is the same as OSHA, except the can capacity is 5.3 gallons (20 liters).
Flammable Liquid Storage Requirements for Safety Cans: UN / D.O.T. 49 CFR
OSHA and the Department of Transportation specify additional requirements when transporting flammable liquids in commercial vehicles on public roads or highways. Always use Type II D.O.T. safety cans. These containers meet OSHA standards. They also feature rugged handle drop protection and a lid locking device.
Flammable Liquid Storage Requirements for Safety Cans: Code Enforcement
Codes are enforceable across the United States. Local authorities often base local regulations on available codes. Always check with local authorities and fire marshals about which ones apply to your business.
OSHA and the other governing organizations do not approve safety cans for flammable chemicals based on the standard. They recognize third-party approval bodies that test containers against the requirements, such as FM Global (FM) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL/ULC).
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