We have probably all used a lot of hand sanitizer in the past six months – the dispensers are everywhere. Until recently, only hospitals and other health care facilities stored large quantities of these chemicals. But now that hand sanitizer is an important defense to stop the spread of COVID, quantities of these chemicals have increased in office and assembly spaces. That means that landlords and tenants must consider if they have created unsafe conditions.
The CDC guidelines require hand sanitizers to contain a minimum of 60-percent ethanol or isopropanol to be effective. At these concentrations, these chemicals are considered flammable liquids and are regulated by state building and fire codes.
Most state building codes regulate the bulk storage of these chemicals. Where the quantities exceed code-prescribed maximums, storage locations may require additional protections such as flammable cabinets, fire-rated rooms, and increased fire protection strategies. Additionally, the NFPA 1 – Fire Code and NFPA 101 – Life Safety Code provide additional guidance for the storage of these products as well as requirements related to the placement and function of dispensers. Below are some questions that our team has been asked:
Is there a maximum allowable percentage of alcohol for sanitizer?
The alcohol-based hand rub cannot exceed 95-percent by volume as it is too hazardous for an office environment.
Is there a limit to the size of a dispenser?
Dispensers should be limited to 1.2 liters (0.32 gallons) in corridors and areas open to corridors and 2 liters (0.53 gal) in other spaces.
How far apart must I locate my dispensers?
Dispensers must be located a minimum of 48-inches apart.
Can I install them near an electrical outlet?
They should be located a minimum of 1-inch horizontally and vertically from any ignition source.
Can I install my dispenser in a carpeted area?
Only if your facility is protected with an automatic fire sprinkler system.
How much sanitizer can I have in my facility?
Maximum container size is 5 gallons. With the maximum total quantity in storage and use on a single floor, outside of a liquid storage cabinet, is 10 gallons (not including 1 dispenser per room located in that room)
If there are any specific questions regarding the use and storage of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, our team can help ensure that a facility complies with state and local codes.