Written by: Adam Marty, PhD, Health Consultant
A one-gallon plastic juice container that contained acetone, a category 2 flammable liquid, was observed in a production area. The container had become brittle and was breaking apart at the top.
Many flammable liquids are solvents which can degrade certain types of plastics causing the plastic to become brittle or soft. If the container fails, this can increase the risk of a fire or explosion resulting in employee burns, traumatic injuries, and/or fatalities.
OSHA has established certain container requirements for storing flammable liquids depending on the category of the liquid and the amount stored. OSHA says in 1910.106(d)(2)(iii) that category 2 flammable liquids shall be stored in either: a) Up to 1 quart in glass or approved plastic containers, b) Up to 5 gallons in metal containers (other than DOT drums), c) Up to 5 gallons in safety cans, d) Up to 60 gallons in metal drums (DOT specifications), or e) Up to 660 gallons in approved portable tanks.
A recommend course of action would be to replace unapproved plastic containers holding flammable liquids with a container approved for the category of the liquid and amount stored. In this case, a metal safety can with a dispenser would be a good option. It is also recommended that secondary containers be labeled appropriately to communicate the hazards.