Weekly Safety Meeting – Safety Cans

Flammable liquids are those with a flash point of less than 100 degrees Celsius. This is the lowest point at which the liquid produces enough vapor to form a flammable mixture with air. Red labels that also contain a fire symbol are used to identify flammable liquids.

Flammable liquid vapors present a serious fire risk. They easily ignite or explode. Because they are heavier than the air, they will settle in low areas, often far removed from the actual liquid.

According to OSHA, only approved safety cans or Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved containers shall be used for the handling and use of gasoline in quantities of 5 gallons or less.

  • Anytime the word “shall” is used in a regulation, it means that this rule is mandatory and must be followed.

OSHA defines a ‘safety can’ as an approved container holding 5 gallons of gas or less with a spring- closing lid and spout cover, a means to relieve internal pressure, and a flash-arresting screen.

The spring-closing lid and spout cover is designed to keep liquid and vapor from escaping at ordinary temperatures and to lift slightly when exposed to excessive outside heat.

OSHA defines ‘approved’ as a gas can that has been listed or approved by a nationally recognized testing lab such as Factory Mutual Engineering Corp (FM), Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL), or federal agencies such as the Bureau of Mines or U.S. Coast Guard. The most common safety can is the short and round red metal can with yellow labeling.

  • Some are now available in high-density polyethylene plastic.

Container Types:

  • Type 1 – fuel storage containers have a single opening used for filling and dispensing the fluids.
  • Type 2 – fuel storage containers have two openings,
    • One for dispensing the fuel and one for refilling the fuel storage container.

Flammables vs. Combustible Materials:

When selecting a fuel storage container, you need to know the difference between flammables and combustibles.

The primary difference between a flammable fuel and a combustible fuel is the fuel’s flashpoint temperature.

  • Class 1 – liquids are flammable or liquid has a flashpoint below 100° Fahrenheit (37.8° Celsius). Propane and gasoline as well as isopropyl alcohol are some examples of flammable liquids.
  • Class 2 – liquids are the combustibles. Their flashpoint (temperature at which their vapors will ignite) is from 100° to 140° Fahrenheit. Oils, kerosene, and grease are examples of class 2 combustible fluids.

Color Coded Containers:

When working around several different types of fuels and other fluids, it is important to keep them contained and stored so that you will always know which chemicals are in which fuel storage container.

Color coding helps immensely.

  • Gasoline is stored in red containers.
  • Diesel is stored in yellow containers.
  • Kerosene is stored in blue containers.
  • Oil combustibles are stored in green containers.


Approved safety cans, as required by OSHA, are found in many different industries and facilities. They provide a safe and convenient method of moving, dispensing, or temporarily storing up to 5 gallons of flammable liquids.

Safety cans also guard against potential fires and explosions by controlling flammable vapors. Most combustibles and flammable chemicals aren’t volatile in liquid form. The danger comes from the vapors. Once at or above its flash point, an increased chance of a dangerous explosion exists.

Download flyer:  SMOTW_624_Safety Cans

Download Spanish flyer: SMOTW_624_Safety Cans_esp

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