Flammable hygiene liquids in hospitals

Most hospitals and medical practices have made the move away from antibacterial hand soaps towards antibacterial alcohol washes such as “Avagard” and 70% alcohol surface sprays which are Class Three Flammable liquids and as such are both a highly flammable liquid and can give off a flammable vapour and although the risks when used individually are low when placed in storage the risks increase. Because of this these medical practices have a duty of care to both staff and patients to identify possible hazards and reduce the risks posed.

One important way to manage and reduce the risks posed with the storage of these flammable liquids is to ensure that there is correct hazard communication present. Hazard communication allows all staff to easily obtain the required information regarding the correct storage, handling and disposal (Safe Work Australia, 2015a, 2015c).

In the case of the ‘Avagard’ and ‘70% alcohol surface spray’ pictured below in Figures One, Two and Three, the manufacturers have implemented simple hazard communication methods on the bottles by ensuring that both written warnings and pictograms are present and clearly visible on each individual item.

These products come in box form which contain several of these products and come with a Safety Data Sheet on each box which outlines the safety precautions required for both usage and storage.

Several important things to know about the storage of these products are:

  • To ensure that your workplace keeps only the lowest practicable quantity of these products;
  • To ensure that storage areas are cool and well ventilated rooms away from direct sunlight and ignition sources;
  • To ensure that correct Safety Data Sheets and Material Safety Data Sheets are visible and up to date;
  • To ensure that pictograms and warnings are present and visible on all bottles when used (Safe Work Australia, 2015b).
Figure one: 70% alcohol surface spray

Figure one: 70% alcohol surface spray

Figure two: 70% Alcohol surface spray

Figure two: 70% Alcohol surface spray

Figure three: Avagard handwash

Figure three: Avagard handwash


Safe Work Australia. (2015a). Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) Retrieved 18/08/2015, from http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/whs-information/hazardous-chemicals/ghs/pages/ghs

Safe Work Australia. (2015b). Storage of flammable or combustible substance Retrieved 18/08/2015, from http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/whs-information/hazardous-chemicals/storage-flammable-combustible/pages/storage-flammable-combustible-substance

safe Work Australia. (2015c). Work Health and Safety Regulations: Classification and labelling for workplace hazardous chemicals Retrieved 18/08/2015, from http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/swa/about/publications/Documents/679/Classification_and_labelling_workplace_hazardous_chemicals_poster%20-A4.pdf


  1. I like the first point to keep quantities stored to lowest possible. I recall walking into a general store room and finding about 2000L of this type of product!! People love stockpiling but don’t often consider the risk of bulking hazardous chemicals. Thanks for sharing 😉

  2. The range of hand and surface hygiene products make DG storage compatibility another common concern with 70% ethanol also found in other topically applied products in healthcare facilities.

    Hazard communication to new staff is an easier ask than the public, where there is ready access to Avagard dispensers at the end of beds presenting an eye splash hazard for small children keen to try the pump top.

    The Avagard dispensers in prominent locations along walkways create potential slip/fall hazards with poorly palmed Avagard spilling to the floor.

  3. Hazard communication is not only a legal requirement, but also one of the most important practical ways to ensure awareness and safe workplace behaviour.

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