Storage of flammable liquids

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) replaces previous legislation on flammable substances, including the Highly Flammable Liquids and Liquefied Gases Regulations 1972.

DSEAR also amends the workplace application of petroleum safety legislation so that licensing now applies only to sites where petrol is dispensed into vehicles (at retail and non-retail petrol filling stations). The storage of petroleum spirit for other purposes no longer requires petroleum licenses but needs to comply with DSEAR, which otherwise introduces little change to the arrangements for storage of petroleum spirits.

As with previous legislation, flammable liquids present within University buildings shall, when not in use, be stored in suitable closed containers kept in a storeroom that is secure, fire resistant, ventilated, and provided with automatic fire detection.

As required by previous HSE guidance documents, DSEAR, in relation to storage facilities for flammable liquids, retains the zoning requirements for equipment used in situations where explosive atmospheres may occur. A hazardous zone is a place where an explosive atmosphere is:

(a)  present continuously, for long periods, or frequently (Zone 0);

(b)  likely to occur occasionally in normal operation (Zone 1);

(c)  not likely to occur in normal operation, and will only be present for a short period if it does occur (Zone 2).

The majority of storage facilities within University departments are not classified under a hazardous zone. Such stores (in which an explosive atmosphere is not expected to occur in such quantities as to require special precautions) are deemed to be non-hazardous within the meaning of DSEAR.

No Zone 0 or Zone 1 facilities exist within University buildings, but some stores are classified under Zone 2. These stores are provided with ventilation, artificial lighting and fire detection equipment that are intrinsically safe. DSEAR requires a warning sign at the entry to such stores to be in place by June 2006. Signs will be available from the University Safety Office.

Only the minimum amount of flammable liquid needed to carry out the work activity should be kept in the workroom or laboratory. For flammable liquids that have a flashpoint above the maximum ambient temperature (normally taken as 32C), the quantity that may be stored should not exceed 250 litres. For flammable liquids with a flashpoint below the maximum ambient temperature the quantity should not exceed 50 litres. These small quantities should be stored in closed containers in a suitably placed cabinet, cupboard, or bin, which is fire resistant and designed to retain spills.

Small quantities of flammable liquid in closed containers each holding not more than 500ml may be present in the workroom or laboratory (without prescriptive fire protection) provided the amount is kept to a minimum consistent with the needs of the working day.


March 2005