Within any commercial, industrial, warehouse, or other business operation, regardless of size, paint storage is regulated by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and often your municipality. Not all paints are the same and we often come to think of them as relatively safe and not related to our typical chemical management approaches, such as with solvents or oils.
However, many paints are considered flammable, and as a result, come under OSHA Rules 1910.106 and 1926.152 Flammable liquids.
Paint storage requirements are based on flammability and flash points. Oil-based paints are considered flammable, while latex-based paints are not considered flammable. NFPA considers paints to be a Category 3 Flammable Substance, the latter classification having a flash point that ranges from 73°F to 140°F (see Figure 1).
Storage of paint containers follows some simple rules, though complexities exist. Storage requirements include:
You cannot store any quantity of paint in stairways or areas normally used as common hallways, evacuation routes, or exits;
Rooms with paint storage must have an approved automatic fire protection system in areas with aisles at least 3 feet wide;
If you are storing 25 gallons or less of paint, then no special storage cabinet is required;
If you are storing more than 25 gallons and up to 60 gallons of flammable paint, storage in an approved cabinet is required;
No more than 3 cabinets (of up to 60-gallon capacity) are allowed in a storage room;
Cabinets must be labeled with conspicuous lettering, "Flammable-Keep Away from Open Flames";
If you are storing more than 60 gallons of solvent-based paints indoors, the paint must be contained in a specially designed storage room that meets certain fire protection standards; and
If you are storing quantities of paint greater than 60 gallons outside, the building must meet specific criteria, in particular, you cannot exceed 1,100 gallons in any one pile or area and no single container can exceed 60 gallons.
The Isosceles Group is retained to develop, implement and maintain Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) and Environmental Management Systems (EMS) at industrial and commercial facilities. It also manages various EHS issues that affect the operation and expansion of such facilities. If you would like The Isosceles Group to assist with EHS management at your facility, please contact Richard DiNitto firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 330-2800.