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Flammable Liquids on your Clothes at work or at home can Leave a Burning Sensation that could be greater without GHS knowledge

Regardless if it is petroleum based drilling mud products or industry products or just house hold flammable products on you they can cause severe fire hand health risks to your staff.

In GHS/Hazcom you must understand that Flammable and combustible liquids are liquids that can burn. They are classified, or grouped, as either flammable or combustible by their flashpoints. Generally speaking, flammable liquids will ignite (catch on fire) and burn easily at normal working temperatures. Combustible liquids have the ability to burn at temperatures that are usually above working temperatures.

The one thing you should never do is run.

To minimize a burn injury when your clothes catch fire, STOP, DROP, and
ROLL. Burns are among the most painful of
injuries and the third leading cause of unintentional death. The hands, groin, face and lungs are at particular risk because they are delicate structures and easily injured.
The healing process is slow and painful, resulting in enormous personal suffering.

Certain types of clothing are less flammable and resist flames more than
other types of clothing. Heavier clothing and fabrics with a tight knit weave burn more slowly compared with loose knit clothing. Fabrics with a loose fit or a fluffy pile will ignite more readily than tight-fitting, dense fabric clothing. Synthetic fibers, such as nylon, once ignited, melt and burn causing severe burns. Natural fibers, such as cotton and wool, tend to burn more slowly than synthetic fibers. However, fibers that
combine both synthetic and natural fibers may be of greater hazard than
either fabric alone. Curtains and draperies can be sprayed with a flame retardant to reduce their rate of burning. However, these chemicals should not be applied to clothing.

There are several specific technical criteria and test methods for identifying flammable and combustible liquids. Under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 1988, flammable liquids have a flashpoint below 37.8°C (100°F). Combustible liquids have a flashpoint at or above 37.8°C (100°F) and below 93.3°C (200°F).

Flammable and combustible liquids are present in almost every workplace. Fuels and many common products like solvents, thinners, cleaners, adhesives, paints, waxes and polishes may be flammable or combustible liquids. Everyone who works with these liquids must be aware of their hazards and how to work safely with them.

 

What is a flashpoint?

The flashpoint of a liquid is the lowest temperature at which the liquid gives off enough vapour to be ignited (start burning) at the surface of the liquid. Sometimes more than one flashpoint is reported for a chemical. Since testing methods and purity of the liquid tested may vary, flashpoints are intended to be used as guides only, not as fine lines between safe and unsafe.

Does the liquid itself burn?

Flammable and combustible liquids themselves do not burn. It is the mixture of their vapours and air that burns. Gasoline, with a flashpoint of -40°C (-40°F), is a flammable liquid. Even at temperatures as low as -40°C (-40°F), it gives off enough vapour to form a burnable mixture in air. Phenol is a combustible liquid. It has a flashpoint of 79°C (175°F), so it must be heated above that temperature before it can be ignited in air.

What are flammable or explosive limits?

A material’s flammable or explosive limits also relate to its fire and explosion hazards. These limits give the range between the lowest and highest concentrations of vapour in air that will burn or explode.

The lower flammable limit or lower explosive limit (LFL or LEL) of gasoline is 1.4 percent; the upper flammable limit or upper explosive limit (UFL or UEL) is 7.6 percent. This means that gasoline can be ignited when it is in the air at levels between 1.4 and 7.6 percent. A concentration of gasoline vapour in air below 1.4 percent is too “lean” to burn. Gasoline vapour levels above 7.6 percent are too “rich” to burn. Flammable limits, like flashpoints however, are intended as guides not as fine lines between safe and unsafe.

What is an Autoignition Temperature?

A material’s autoignition or ignition temperature is the temperature at which a material self-ignites without any obvious sources of ignition, such as a spark or flame.

Most common flammable and combustible liquids have autoignition temperatures in the range of 300°C (572°F) to 550°C (1022°F). Some have very low autoignition temperatures. For example, ethyl ether has an autoignition temperature of 160°C (356°F) and its vapours have been ignited by hot steam pipes. Serious accidents have resulted when solvent-evaporating ovens were heated to temperatures above the autoignition temperature of the solvents used. Autoignition temperatures, however, are intended as guides, not as fine lines between safe and unsafe. Use all precautions necessary.

How can flammable and combustible liquids be a fire or explosion hazard?

At normal room temperatures, flammable liquids can give off enough vapour to form burnable mixtures with air. As a result, they can be a serious fire hazard. Flammable liquid fires burn very fast. They also give off a lot of heat and often clouds of thick, black, toxic smoke.

Combustible liquids at temperatures above their flashpoint also release enough vapour to form burnable mixtures with air. Hot combustible liquids can be as serious a fire hazard as flammable liquids.

Spray mists of flammable and combustible liquids in air may burn at any temperature if an ignition source is present. The vapours of flammable and combustible liquids are usually invisible. They can be hard to detect unless special instruments are used.

Most flammable and combustible liquids flow easily. A small spill can cover a large area of workbench or floor. Burning liquids can flow under doors, down stairs and even into neighbouring buildings, spreading fire widely. Materials like wood, cardboard and cloth can easily absorb flammable and combustible liquids. Even after a spill has been cleaned up, a dangerous amount of liquid could still remain in surrounding materials or clothing, giving off hazardous vapours.

What is the danger of flashback?

Vapours can flow from open liquid containers. The vapours from nearly all flammable and combustible liquids are heavier than air. If ventilation is inadequate, these vapours can settle and collect in low areas like sumps, sewers, pits, trenches and basements. The vapour trail can spread far from the liquid. If this vapour trail contacts an ignition source, the fire produced can flash back (or travel back) to the liquid. Flashback and fire can happen even if the liquid giving off the vapour and the ignition source are hundreds of feet or several floors apart.

Can flammable or combustible liquids be hazardous to my body?

The most obvious harm would be the danger of a fire or explosion. After the immediate danger of a fire, there are sometimes other properties of these liquids that may be hazardous to the body. Flammable and combustible liquids can also cause health problems depending on the specific material and route of exposure (breathing the vapour/mist, eye or skin contact, or swallowing). Some flammable and combustible liquids are corrosive. Many undergo dangerous chemical reactions if they contact incompatible chemicals such as oxidizing materials, or if they are stored improperly.

The GHS Safety Data Sheet and the supplier’s labels on the containers should tell you about all the hazards for the flammable and combustible liquids that you work with.

An example is 2-propanol (also known as: dimethylcarbinol, isopropanol, or isopropyl alcohol). It is a colourless liquid with a sharp odour like rubbing alcohol or resembling that of a mixture of ethanol and acetone. It is flammable liquid and vapour. Vapour is heavier than air and may spread long distances. Distant ignition and flashback are possible. It is also considered to be a mild central nervous system depressant. High vapour may cause headache, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, incoordination, and confusion. It may also be irritating to the respiratory tract or eyes.

Flammable and combustible products are used for a wide variety of purposes and are commonly found in the home. Gasoline is the most common, but there are other flammable and combustible liquidsand gases used in the home including:

  • paint solvents
  • lighter fluid
  • dry cleaning agents
  • butane
  • pesticides
  • oil
  • spray paint
  • kerosene
  • propane
  • diesel fuel
  • turpentine
  • nail polish

At normal room temperatures, flammable liquids can give off enough vapour to form burnable mixtures with air. As a result, they can be a serious fire hazard. Flammable liquid fires burn very fast. They also give off a lot of heat and often clouds of thick, black, toxic smoke.

Combustible liquids at temperatures above their flashpoint also release enough vapour to form burnable mixtures with air. Hot combustible liquids can be as serious a fire hazard as flammable liquids.

Spray mists of flammable and combustible liquids in air may burn at any temperature if an ignition source is present. The vapours of flammable and combustible liquids are usually invisible. They can be hard to detect unless special instruments are used. The most obvious harm would be the danger of a fire or explosion. After the immediate danger of a fire, there are sometimes other properties of these liquids that may be hazardous to the body. Flammable and combustible liquids can also cause health problems depending on the specific material and route of exposure (breathing the vapour/mist, eye or skin contact, or swallowing). Some flammable and combustible liquids are corrosive. Many undergo dangerous chemical reactions if they contact incompatible chemicals such as oxidizing materials, or if they are stored improperly.

 

Many households use natural gas, propane or fuel oil heating. Each
product poses a serious health or fire danger if not used and stored properly.

Background Information

A flammable liquid in its liquid state will not burn. It only will
ignite when it vaporizes into a gaseous state. All flammable liquids
give off vapors that can ignite and burn when an ignition source such as
a lighted cigarette or spark is present.

To understand the dangers associated with flammable liquids, it is
useful to be familiar with the terms used to describe their
chemical properties. They are:

  • Flash point
  • Flammable/combustible liquids
  • Flammable range
  • Ignition temperatures
  • Vapor density

Flash point – The temperature at which a particular flammable liquid
gives off vapors (vaporizes) and therefore can ignite. The
flash point differs for each type of flammable liquid. Kerosene has a
flash point of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Gasoline has a flash
point of -40 degrees. This means that at 110 degrees or higher kerosene
gives off flammable vapors and can ignite. However,
gasoline requires a temperature of only -40 degrees to vaporize to cause
an explosion or fire. This means that when the
temperature is freezing, gasoline still vaporizes and can cause an
explosion and/or fire. At the same temperature, kerosene
cannot ignite. Liquids such as gasoline with a flashpoint below 100
degrees are called flammable liquids. Kerosene and other
liquids with a flash point above 100 degrees are referred to as
combustible liquids.

Flammable range refers to the percentage of a flammable liquid, in its
gaseous state, to air to create an explosive mixture. This
varies with different flammable liquids. Gasoline has a flammability
range of 1.4 to 7.6 percent. This means it will ignite when
there is 1.4 parts of gasoline mixed with 100 parts air. With this in
mind, 1.4 percent is known as the lower flammable limit and
7.6 percent is the upper flammable limit of the flammable range. A
product mixed with air below the low end of its flammable
range is too lean to burn. A flammable liquid which exceeds its upper
flammable limit is too rich to ignite. Ethylene oxide is
extremely flammable. It has a flammable range of 3.6 to 100 percent.
This means it can burn even if there is no air.

Gasoline has a narrow flammable range and is metered precisely in a
vehicle’s carburetor to obtain the desired flammable range.
A vehicle will have trouble operating if the carburetor meters too much
gasoline. This is referred to as a rich mixture, which is
too concentrated for ignition by the spark plugs. Too little gasoline in
a vehicle’s carburetor is called a lean mixture, which is too
diluted for ignition.

The ignition temperature is the temperature required for a liquid to
continue to emit vapors that can sustain
combustion. Gasoline will ignite when a heat source or electrical spark
of at least 853 degrees comes in contact with it. Natural
gas (methane) needs an ignition temperature of around 1000 degrees and
paint thinner 453 degrees.

Vapor density is the weight of a vapor relative to the weight of air.
The vapor density of natural gas causes it to be lighter than
air and will rise when exposed in the open. The vapor density of
gasoline is heavier than air and will seek low points when it is
exposed to the air. Products with a high vapor density (heavier than
air) behave much like carbon dioxide gas escaping from a
block of dry ice. (Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide gas.) A term used in
the fire service is BLEVE. It is an acronym for “Boiling
Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion.” A BLEVE occurs when a confined liquid
is heated above its atmospheric boiling point.
The vapors expand and suddenly the container will explode.

 

Gasoline and Other Flammable Liquids and Gases

Gasoline
Gasoline is the most common flammable liquid found in the home. Used
carelessly or improperly, it is the main cause of burn
injuries among teenage boys. Gasoline is highly volatile due to its low
flash point and easily vaporizes when exposed to air.
Because it is heavier than air, it can seek out ignition sources such as
a pilot light from a water heater, an electrical spark from a
hand tool, or a lit cigarette dropped on the ground. Use care when
filling lawn mowers, chain saws and other power tools with
gasoline. Don’t refill a power tool with the engine running or while the
manifold is hot. Use a funnel to pour the gas to avoid
overfilling and spilling. If gasoline is spilled, allow it to vaporize
completely. This will maintain a dry surface and reduce the
chance of ignition. Never fill gasoline in a confined space, indoors or
in a closed garage.

Never smoke around gasoline or other flammable liquids. Do not use it as
a cleaning solvent or to remove grease and oil from
automotive parts, your hands or clothing. Many people are seriously
burned each year from these mistakes. Do not pour
gasoline or other flammable liquids down the sink or into a storm drain.
This creates an explosion potential.

Do not store gasoline in the house. It should be kept in a detached
garage or in an outside storage area. Be absolutely sure it is
clear from any ignition source such as a water heater, washer or dryer.
Do not put gasoline in a cup, glass jug or old bleach
bottle. It should be stored in an approved container, which is of heavy
duty construction, has a spring-loaded, self-closing
handle and is equipped with a safety-relief plug.

Don’t store gasoline in the trunk or back of the car. If you need to
carry fuel, make sure the cap is tightly closed, and fill the can
only three-fourths full, leaving an air space for vapor expansion.

Kerosene
Kerosene heaters are commonly used in many homes and businesses during
colder months of the year to provide warmth.
Kerosene is not as flammable as gasoline but just as dangerous. Fill a
kerosene heater outdoors using a fill spout. Never fill a
heating unit while hot and be sure the area is ventilated. Kerosene
should be stored away from the home and any heat or
ignition sources. It should be stored in an approved container like
gasoline.

Other flammable liquids and gases
For health and safety reasons, paint should be used in a ventilated
area. It should be stored in a secured can when not being
used. Spray paint and paint solvents such as lacquer thinner, and paint
brush cleaner are highly flammable and should be stored
away from heat or ignition sources. Other cleaners such as naptha and
toluene can be ignited by static electricity from one’s
clothing. These products should be stored in secured containers away
from the home in a detached storage area.

You may have a good reason to have benzine in the house – as a dry
cleaning fluid or as a fluid for your cigarette lighter. Even
then, you should keep the smallest quantity possible on hand…in a
tightly capped container…stored securely away in a cool
place. Benzene (with an “e”), otherwise known as benzol, is a very
serious fire and health hazard (a known carcinogen). Do not
use or store it under any circumstances.

Denatured alcohol may be required for some uses in the home, perhaps as
a rubbing solution. While it is not quite as dangerous
as some of the others, it is nonetheless highly flammable and should be
used and stored with as much caution as any other
flammable liquid.

Many pesticides are not only poisonous, but are highly flammable. When
using pesticides, be sure you are away from any heat
or ignition source. Always keep pesticides in their original containers.

Rags which have been used to wipe or clean petroleum products may
spontaneously ignite. Cleaning rags soaked in oil,
furniture polish, turpentine, or paint should be kept in a
tightly-sealed metal container or thrown away immediately after use.

 

Survival Actions Regarding Flammable Liquids

Even if you have a small spill involving a flammable liquid, immediately
open your windows to ventilate the area. Do not use fans
or other electrical devices, which might provide an ignition source and
cause an explosion. If you get some of the liquid on your
skin, remove the affected clothing and wash your skin with soap and
water. Soak your clothes in water before washing them. If
a large spill occurs, evacuate the area immediately and call 9-1-1.

A small fire involving a flammable liquid can be controlled with a class
B fire extinguisher. Never try to extinguish a flammable
liquid fire with water. This could cause the fire to spread. Do not try
to control a fire involving compressed gases such as butane
or propane. They are extremely dangerous. For a large fire involving a
flammable liquid, evacuate the area and call 9-1-1.

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