OSHA Flammable Liquid Codes Reorganized (U.S. Labor Law)
Government agencies, corporations and institutions across the United States have been using NFPA® 30 Flammable and Combustible Classifications as the regulating standard for flammable and combustible substances for decades. The changes regarding OSHA’s new flammable liquid codes can create confusion that may lead to a hazardous situation. It is very important to read OSHA’s flammable liquid classifications carefully, without confusing regulations with NFPA® 30 Flammable and Combustible Classifications for safety precautions.
Below are the new OSHA Flammable Liquid Classifications (OSHA CFR 29, Standard No. 1910.106 & 1910.106(a))
Flammable liquid means any liquid having a flash point at or below 199.4°F (93°C). Flammable liquids are divided into four categories as follows:
- Category 1 shall include liquids having flashpoints below 73.4°F (23°C) and having a boiling point at or below 95°F (35°C)
- Category 2 shall include liquids having flashpoints below 73.4°F (23°C) and having a boiling point above 95°F (35°C)
- Category 3 shall include liquids having flashpoints at or above 73.4°F (23°C) and at or below 140°F (60°C)
- When a Category 3 liquid with a flashpoint at or above 100°F (37.8°C) is heated for use to within 30°F (16.7°C) of its flashpoint, it shall be handled in accordance with the requirements for a Category 3 liquid with a flashpoint below 100°F (37.8°C).
- Category 4 shall include liquids having flashpoints above 140°F (60°C) and at or below 199.4°F (93°C). When a Category 4 flammable liquid is heated for use to within 30°F (16.7°C) of its flashpoint, it shall be handled in accordance with the requirements for a Category 3 liquid with a flashpoint at or above 100°F (37.8°C)
Concerns Regarding New OSHA Flammable Liquid Classifications
New OSHA flammable liquid classifications are organized into the term “Categories”, where NFPA fire codes are more commonly known as “Classes”. The regulations regarding classifications of both regulatory agencies are not the same (ie. NFPA’s Class II flammable liquid is different than OSHA’s Category 2 flammables). This can cause a confusion with how chemicals are stored, handled or used. It is extremely important to communicate which classification is being addressed, therefore there is no confusion regarding what type of flammables are being stored, handled or how they are being used.
Additional concerns when communicating OSHA Flammable Liquid Classifications:
- According to the new OSHA flammable liquid classifications, the term “combustible” is removed. According to OSHA, all liquids are now considered “flammable”.
- NFPA Class III, B liquids are are not considered when mentioning the new OSHA fire codes. The NFPA Class III, B liquids are still flammable and can cause a hazardous situation when given appropriate circumstances. This may cause a confusion when storing NFPA Class III, B liquids and mentioning new OSHA flammable liquid classifications.
When referring to flammable liquids, be sure to communicate what regulatory agency is being addressed to avoid confusion.