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Storing Large Amounts of Hazardous Materials and Coatings -A Guide

Whether you’re a coatings supplier, coatings manufacturer, high volume product manufacturer, or for any reason have a large volume of hazardous materials or coatings you plan on storing understanding important requirements is critical to ensure you select a storage method that is safe and effective. This guide will primarily focus on materials that are flammable like coatings and paints but is relevant to a variety of material storage applications.

Pertinent Safety Rules Related to Hazardous Material Storage

There are a variety of organizations that have rules pertaining to safe storage of hazardous materials. IN particular NFPA 33, NFPA 45 and NFPA 30 has rules related to handling and storage of flammable materials.  It is important to note many materials that may not naturally be considered flammable (like waterborne paints) are considered flammable. NFPA 33 primarily addresses lower volumes of flammable materials that are being used in a mixing application. For example if you have 100 gallons of material that you keep easily accessible in order to mix paints while you get ready to spray, this would be addressed by NFPA 33. The volume of material you can have readily available in this type of area is typically limited and in general the less the better. It is also important to note that there are specific requirements for a mix room related to ventilation rate, containment of any material that spills, and more. A predesigned mix room by a recognized national manufacturer will be predesigned to meet NFPA’s and other safety requirements for mix room applications.

OSHA also has rules pertaining to storage of hazardous and flammable materials which is covered under 29 CFR 1910.106.

In addition to NFPA another pertinent set of safety regulations that is relevant to storing hazardous materials is the International Building Code. In general, hazardous materials will often be classified as a High Hazard Group and will have specific requirements on fire ratings of the storage area, explosion relief (where applicable), ventilation requirements, containment steps, and more. A general overview of high hazard groups is available here. For coatings the classification will typically fall under a H3 category. In order to know the exact group that your application will fall under you can speak to your local fire marshal or building inspector for assistance.

Meeting Pertinent Safety Regulations for Storing Hazardous Materials

In order to be able to sufficiently meet the proper safety regulations you need to know the hazard group which your material will fall under. Once you have identified the group which your work will fall under, you will have to evaluate options to meet the requirements. Common ways which regulations are met include going with a pre manufactured solution like a hazardous materials storage unit, which is pre designed to meet all safety requirements, or a paint mix room for mixing small amounts of materials. You can also consider evaluating working with an architectural and/or a engineering firm to have your facility designed to properly meet requirements. Whichever route you consider, you want to ensure your local authority whether it’s the fire marshal or inspector, approves of your potential plans. This will ensure you do not move forward with a specific solution and end up not being able to pass important inspections or implement a solution that is not safe.


Storing hazardous materials poses a lot of safety concerns. From NFPA to OSHA, to the International Building Code and other safety rules, it can be a lot to figure out how to safely store or mix a particular material. By coordinating with your fire marshal or building inspector you can begin to know what safety requirements will be needed. Based on their input and the federal regulations mentioned, you can begin to decide how to address the problem whether with a pre designed solution like a hazardous material storage room or a mix room or working with qualified architects/ engineers to ensure all standards are met.

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