What Is an “Approved” Safety Can — and Which Type Do You Need?
When you store flammable or combustible liquids — such as gasoline, kerosene, diesel, propane, isopropyl alcohol, and various oils — at your worksite, you can’t just use any container. OSHA regulations state that when flammable liquids are stored inside a building, they must either be in a storage room, in closed metal containers in a storage cabinet, or in an “approved” safety can. A non-approved can may not be unable to withstand a corrosive material, contain vapors, or tolerate heavy-duty use.
When is an approved safety can necessary?
So what is an approved can? It’s a can that meets OSHA’s specifications for flammable liquids storage as described in 29 CFR 1910.106. Such a can may hold up to 5 gallons, must have a spring-closing lid and spout cover, and be “so designed that it will safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure.”
For construction worksites in particular, regulation 29 CFR 1910.155(l) also requires safety cans to have a flash-arresting screen. And finally, to be considered approved, the can must be “listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory” — for example, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or another organization in OSHA’s NRTLs list.
Safety cans aren’t a “one size fits all” product. Many types are available for many different types of liquids and materials:
- Type 1 versus Type 2 — What’s the difference? Type 1 safety cans use the same spout for both pouring and filling, whereas a Type 2 safety can has separate openings for pouring and filling.
- Color coding — Industry-standard colors for storing flammables are yellow for diesel, red for gasoline, blue for kerosene, and green for oil combustibles.
- Materials — Depending on what the can is designed to contain, different materials may be required. For example, galvanized steel is an excellent way to store ethanol, but a poor way to store acetone. Make sure you are ordering cans that are compatible with the substance you need to store.
Safety cans can be a flexible and essential tool, but only if you have the right ones for your needs!
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