Everything You Need to Know About FDNY’s New COVID-19 Hand Sanitizer Storage Requirements
Most people know that, with the threat of COVID-19 contamination still being a major concern, the use of hand sanitizer after coming in contact with other people or public spaces is a necessity. What many business owners don’t know, however, is that hand sanitizer can present a fire hazard, given its alcohol content and resulting flammability.
Below, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about proper hand sanitizer storage so that you can keep yourself and your employees protected without creating a fire hazard in your office or place of work.
What is ABHR?
ABHR stands for “alcohol-based hand rub,” and it refers specifically to a hand sanitizer that has a high enough alcohol content to kill harmful bacteria or viruses on your hands. Generally speaking, ABHRs have an alcohol content of at least 60%, as this concentration of alcohol is deemed effective against COVID and other viruses.
Who Does This Apply To?
In New York, business owners and property managers must provide an ABHR with an alcohol content of at least 60% to all of their employees in any areas where handwashing with soap isn’t possible. This includes individual workspaces, any public areas without a sink present, and especially in areas where there are no bathrooms.
In short, all business owners and property managers are required to supply ABHR to their employees at all times.
What Sparked These New Requirements?
Because of the alcohol content of ABHR, hand sanitizer is considered highly flammable and can therefore present a fire hazard. The guidelines we’re discussing below were made necessary because, with the threat of COVID, business owners must store more ABHR than is normally considered safe out of practicality and to protect their employees.
Summary of Rules for Storage
Storage of ABHR is now regulated in two different ways: by place of storage and by quantity kept in storage.
According to the FDNY, ABHR may not be stored below grade at all, and any storage above grade must be done in a “control area,” which is either a room with a fire-rated door with sheetrock walls from the subfloor to the flooring of the floor above or in an approved metal storage cabinet. Further, as you move above ground level, the storage amounts change. More information and specifics can be found here.
Summary of Rules for Handling
There are also guidelines for handling ABHR, both for moving into and out of storage depending on the size of the containers.
Any movement or storage of ABHR in single containers over 5 gallons requires a permit, and any storage of ABHR in smaller containers but exceeding a maximum of 275 gallons requires a permit and direct supervision of a Fire Department Certificate of Fitness holder.
Summary of Rules for Use
Lastly, there are guidelines for the dispensers as well as the use of hand sanitizer in businesses and public properties.
Individual dispensers must not be larger than 68 ounces, there must not be more than 10 gallons total in all dispensers combined in a single control area. Dispensers must either be disposable or contain pre-packaged refills of sanitizer, and they must not let any sanitizer or fumes out unless triggered to do so.
Dispensers cannot be placed above outlets, carpeting, or other flammable material or potential ignition sources.
Abiding by NYFD’s new requirements for hand sanitizer storage is a necessity for all business and property owners. Creating a safe workplace for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic is critical, and the proper use of hand sanitizer and protective gear like these medical face shields can help keep employees safe from infection and offer some peace of mind as well.