Safely Storing Dangerous Goods

August 10, 2011

In response to a request from one of our members, we asked Peter Vitali from WorkSafe’s Dangerous Goods Unit (more than 35 years experience in the petrochemical, paint, plastics and package manufacturing industry) to put together some advice on the storage of small quantities of dangerous goods.

The storage of small quantities of dangerous goods is a difficult area to deal with as the current OHS Regulations and Australian Standards have their own definitions of minor quantity levels with regards to the type of premises the dangerous goods are to be stored. 
 

There are different guidelines for storing small quantities of dangerous goods depending on what type of building it is.
 
In commercial buildings, factories, workshops, hospitals and warehouses up to 250 litres of flammable liquids can be stored:
  • in any 500 m2 floor area within the commercial premises
  • outside the commercial premises in an outhouse or shed separated by a one hour fire rated wall.
 Mixed classes of dangerous goods are generally limited to up to 250kg or litres provided they are general retail dangerous goods.
 
A guide for storage at private residences is:
  • up to five litres of flammable liquids in the residence
  • up to 25 litres in a garage attached to the residence
  • up to 100 litres outdoors or in a shed separated from the residence by at least one metre
  • up to 250 litres outdoors or in a shed or garage, separate from the residence or any structure or building by either three metres or a two-hour fire rated wall.
 
Up to 250 litres of mixed classes of dangerous goods can be stored in a residential outdoor building provided all the dangerous goods are in consumer commodity pack sizes purchased from a retailer for private home use.
For commercial buildings, factories, workshops, hospitals and warehouses 250kg or litres of general dangerous goods are considered minor amounts when in consumer packaging (oil base paints, caustic cleaners, methylates spirits, turpentine etc and aerosol cans). Provided these dangerous goods are kept in a cool dry and well-ventilated area in their original sealed containers, the risks associated with spills leaks and fire should be reduced to reasonable levels.
Many building owners use fire safety cabinets with a capacity to hold up to 250 litres. These cabinets are not mandatory but do provide an extra level of safety and assist in keeping the dangerous goods in one area. Aerosols, tins of paint and corrosive products can be stored in the same cabinet provided they have their own spill trays and are not placed directly above the aerosols cans.
For more information on storage of minor quantities of dangerous goods, read:
  • Storage and handling of dangerous goods code of practice
  • AS1940 The storage and handling of combustible liquids and AS3833 The storage and handling of mixed classes of dangerous goods in mixed packages and intermediate bulk containers.
Further guidance can be found at worksafe.vic.gov.au.
For further advice contact WorkSafe Advisory Service on 1800 136 089.

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