Hand Sanitiser

There are a few cases circulating on various platforms on burns associated with Alcohol Based Hand Sanitisers.

It is important to note the following:

  • Verify all incidents before sharing.
  • The hand sanitizer requirement for SA is a minimum of 70% alcohol content. (OHS Directive)
  • Alcohol Based Hand Sanitisers (ABHS) are flammable. ABHS generally contain ethyl alcohol, which readily evaporates at room temperature into an ignitable vapour. (CDC)
  • Labelling should cover: Flammable labelling, Directions for use, Precautions, First Aid etc. as per the Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulations.
  • “Although the incidence of fires related to ABHS is very low, it is vital that ABHS is stored safely and that bulk dispensers are installed and maintained correctly.” (CDC)
  • “The alcohol content in the sanitizers is flammable and has caused burns in connection with static and arcing electricity.” (Office of the Fire state Marshal – Kansas) – issued March 2020


The following is recommended:

  • The risk associated with ABHS are included in your risk assessment.
  • Refer to the product Safety Data Sheet for more information of the risk associated with the product you are using.
  • Staff should be educated on the risks of ABHS. Not just flammability, but to keep away from children, accidental ingestion etc.
  • Staff should be educated on how to use the ABHS – e.g. Once applied, the hands should be rubbed for 30 seconds or until the liquid evaporates.
  • If you are dispensing the hand sanitiser from bulk containers into small containers – conduct a risk assessment – consider ventilation, need for PPE, etc. for that activity, The smaller containers need to be properly labelled.
  • There is the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code Requirements for the use of ABHS Dispensers – talks to positioning of dispensers, etc. – additional guidnace.
  • Be prepared to dispell fake news – if you have used hand sanitiser and it has evaporated and a few minutes later you decided to cook, your hands will not catch alight!