Flammable materials are common to most workplaces and can take the shape of liquids, gases or solids. Even the vapor that a flammable material gives off can be flammable so it is important to familiarize yourself with these materials to make sure they are handled correctly.
A fire in the workplaces requires three things: fuel, oxygen and an ignition source. You’ll want to review the MSDS for any flammable materials in the workplace because ignition sources can be unexpected. Flammable materials do not necessarily require an open flame to ignite, a faulty radiator or exposed wire can be all it takes to create a dangerous situation.
When reviewing the MSDS check for any important details, if it is a gas does it produce an odour? Is it stored under high pressure? What is the ignition temperature? What materials does the materials react poorly with? Your MSDS should contain a section on Fire Fighting Measures, make sure to review that section and train staff appropriately.
All workplaces with flammable materials should have written procedures based off the MSDS outlining storage, use, clean up, incompatible materials, protective equipment required, steps for fire prevention and what to do in the case of an emergency. All new staff should be trained in these practices, and written copies of these procedures should be easily available for staff to review.
When handling and storing flammable materials in the workplace knowledge is your most important tool. Know what equipment to wear when handling the material and know what can cause the material to ignite. Know if the material is prone to explosion or gives off toxic/ flammable vapours. Stay updated on your safety procedures and if unsure about your company safety procedures give us a call. Highmark Safety can help you create an appropriate safety plan for flammable materials in the workplace and ensure that staff are trained to handle the situation.
Sample MSDS – http://avogadro.chem.iastate.edu/MSDS/methane.pdf