Flammable Liquids: An Introduction

Published On: August 17, 2022

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed the flammable liquids standard to provide guidance on identifying, storing, and managing these materials. In 2012, OSHA revised the flammable liquids standard to incorporate the Globally Harmonized System (GHS). This revision changed the standard from “Flammable and Combustible Liquids” to “Flammable Liquids” and removed combustible liquids as a class.  This revision divided flammable liquids into four categories based on flashpoint and boiling point. This is often confused with the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 30 Code for Flammable and Combustible Liquids which categorizes flammables and combustibles by class. NFPA 30 is enforceable under OSHA and many state and local regulations; it is strongly recommended to refer to both reference materials when determining your facility needs.

The first step to understanding your facility’s regulatory requirements is identifying the type and amount of flammable liquids utilized onsite. The most common OSHA violations occur from the mismanagement of flammable liquids in four areas:

  • Category of liquid;
  • Amount of liquid stored;
  • Storage container type; and,
  • Storage area.

Questions to consider when examining your facility’s flammable liquid inventory include the following:

  • How are flammables stored?
  • Do I have flammable liquid cabinets? Do these meet NFPA standards?
  • How many gallons of each category do I store?
  • Am I grounding and/or bonding while dispensing?
  • Am I storing flammables outside?
  • Do I have adequate fire protection?

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