Workplaces that handle flammable & combustible materials must understand the risks surrounding their use and storage. With that said, it is crucial that employees working for these organisations understand the difference between flammables and combustibles, as this can dictate the level of risk that a material poses and how easily it can cause a fire to occur.
Knowing this will help employers and employees alike, as it will give them a better understanding of their properties so they can be handled and stored safely at all times.
With that said, the difference between flammable and combustible materials is defined by the specific temperature, also known as a ‘flashpoint’, they must be exposed to in order to set on fire.
Materials defined as ‘flammable’ will ignite at a lower temperature than those defined as ‘combustible’ when exposed to an ignition source.
It’s important to note that the flash point is the lowest temperature that hazardous materials will generate vapours and ignite when exposed to an ignition source.
However, the flashpoint differs between materials. Therefore, there are certain flashpoint thresholds that separate flammable materials from combustible ones.
What are the flashpoints of flammable and combustible materials?
Any material that has a flashpoint of a temperature below 37.8°C is considered flammable.
Materials that have a flashpoint between the temperatures of 37.8°C and 93.3°C are considered combustible.
Generally speaking, flammable materials are considered much more of a risk in the workplace, as it is less likely for temperatures above 37.8°C to be present in the workplace. Additionally, flammables are more likely to form vapours in normal work environments, simply because their flash points are lower.
If your workplace stores or uses any flammable or combustible materials, it’s vital for all employees to understand how to control their risks. Otherwise, your workplace will be susceptible to a fire or even an explosion.
Here at iHASCO, we offer a range of training courses for those who work with flammable or combustible materials.
Our COSHH Training course has been designed for the use of all levels of staff who work with hazardous materials, including those that are flammable and combustible. The course, which can be completed in just 25 minutes, covers key areas surrounding the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, including recognising symbols of the Globally Harmonized System.
Additionally, we offer a Fire Awareness Training course that is also designed for all levels of employees. In the UK, it is a legal requirement to provide staff with fire safety training, and it is essential that staff receive a solid understanding of what to do in the event of a fire and how they can best prevent fires from occurring in the first place.