Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fire Filling Portable Gas

  • In incidents reported to NIOSH in the US, fires spontaneously ignited when workers or others attempted to fill portable gasoline containers (gas cans) in the backs of pickup trucks equipped with plastic bed liners or in cars with carpeted surfaces. Serious skin burns and other injuries resulted.
  • These fires result from the buildup of static electricity. The insulating effect of the bed liner or carpet prevents the static charged generated by gasoline flowing into the container or other sources from grounding. The discharge of this buildup to the grounded gasoline dispenser nozzle may cause a spark and ignite the gasoline.
  • Both ungrounded metal (most hazardous) and plastic gas containers have been involved in these incidents, a NIOSH Hazard ID said.
Recommendations for prevention
Construction workers and others in small businesses who often work withgasoline powered equipment commonly use portable gas containers. Homeowners usegas cans for their landmowers and other equipment.
  • Avoid the hazardous practice of leaving the portable gas containers in trucks or cars when refueling
  • Before filling, remove the containers from the vehicle and place them on the ground at a safe distance from the vehicle (provides path to dissipate static charge to ground)
  • Touch the container with the gas dispenser nozzle before removing the container lid (provides another path to dissipate static charge to ground)
  • Keep the nozzle in contact with the container inlet when filling (to dissipate static charge buildup from flow of gasoline)
Additionalprevention measures include:
  • Manufacturers or retailers - place a hazard label on all plastic liners being sold warning workers not to fill portable gas containers in the bed liner of the truck but always to place the containers on the ground before filling
  • Gas stations - display a warning notice near gas pumps to place all portable gas containers on the ground before filling
  • Manufacturers - build bed liners that can be grounded to the metal truck, thereby dissipating potential electrostatic charge

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