A safety alert has been issued about the risks associated with highly flammable substances being used to meet the increased demand for hand sanitiser.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has said that hand sanitisers manufactured in accordance with specified formulations will be exempt from TGA regulation, as long as they contain particular ingredients, comply with advertising and meet labelling conditions.
The specified formulation contains very high percentages of either ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, both of which are dangerous goods: 80 per cent (by volume) ethyl alcohol (ethanol), or 75 per cent (by volume) isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol).
Both these types of alcohol are classified as flammable liquids, as they present a fire hazard. Because they are flammable, alcohol-based sanitisers and some of their ingredients have the potential to harm persons and property.
Hand sanitisers may also contain other ingredients that are dangerous goods.
Ethanol solution (95%)
Isopropanol (Isopropyl alcohol)
New importers or manufacturers may not be aware of the risks associated with the highly flammable ingredients they are working with, or of the precautions they need to take for the safe storage and handling of materials prior to, during and after the manufacturing process.
The control measures listed below should be considered for reducing risks associated with flammable materials.
AS1940 The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids also provides guidance in relation to controlling risks of fire and explosion.