The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) classifies paint as a flammable liquid. Storing paint incorrectly can be extremely dangerous, and failure to do so can result in large fines and other penalties. If you plan to store paint for any amount of time, there are strict guidelines you should follow to prevent fires or other dangers to worker safety. These guidelines specify where paint can be stored, how different quantities of paint should be stored and what safety precautions need to be in place for safe storage.
Storage Cabinets and Locations
OSHA regulations clearly specify the locations where paint may be stored in a building. No quantity of paint can be stored in any exits, stairways or public hallways. If you are storing more than 25 gallons of paint in one place, but less than 60 gallons, the paint must be stored in an approved storage cabinet. Wooden storage cabinets must be made of exterior-grade plywood that is at least an inch thick. All joints in the cabinet must be a rabbeted overlap – or overlapping groove – of no less than one inch, and they must be fastened in two directions with flathead screws. OSHA regulations state that steel hinges must be securely mounted, so they do not loose their hold in the event of a fire. They do not specify how this should be achieved, so you should consult a professional when purchasing steel hinges. Make sure your hinges do not have nylon or aluminum washers, as these will degrade easily in a fire. If possible, purchase hinges that come with a fire certificate, which states that they are suitable for fire doors. Finally, all paint storage cabinets must be clearly marked with the words "Flammable-Keep Fire Away."
Indoor Storage Rooms
Any quantity of paint or flammable liquid that exceeds 60 gallons must be stored in a storage room. Inside storage rooms must meet a specified fire-resistive rating by passing the test described in “Standard Methods of Fire Test of Building Construction and Material, NFPA 251-1969.” They must be located in a building with a fire protection system, such as a sprinkler, water spray or carbon dioxide system. Materials that react with water to create a fire hazard cannot be stored in the same room with paint. All storage rooms should have a ventilation system that can provide a complete change of air at least six times per hour, and the controls for this ventilation system must be located outside of the room. Regardless of the size of the paint storage room, there should be a clear aisle through the room at least three feet wide.
Outdoor Storage Areas
When it is not possible to store paint in a building, outdoor storage containers may be used. Each storage area should be graded or surrounded by a curb or dike at least 12 inches high, so that any spills that occur will not move in the direction of a building. When curbs are used, there should be a drainage system to prevent rainwater from accumulating around the storage area. Paint storage containers should not exceed 60 gallons each, and no more than 1,100 gallons of paint can be stored in a single pile or storage area. There should also be a 12-foot wide access point for fire trucks within 200 feet of each container or pile of containers.