Filling portable fuel containers with flammable liquids at service stations

Guidance on how to prevent fatality or serious injury associated with filling portable fuel containers with flammable liquids.

Shape

Problem

Petrol and other fuels at service stations are highly flammable liquids. People can be killed or seriously injured when filling containers, such as jerry cans with fuel at service stations.

Risks

People can be killed or seriously injured at a service station if flammable liquids ignite.

Vapours from flammable liquids, such as petrol or kerosene, can be easily ignited by static electricity or courtesy lights inside vehicles.

A woman received serious injuries, 3 vehicles were destroyed and a service station was closed for a major refit following a fire. The fire started after the woman filled 20 litre fuel containers inside the rear of her 4-wheel drive.

By filling the containers as they sat inside the vehicle, static electricity was able to ignite fuel vapours at the containers filling neck.

Solution

When filling portable fuel containers at service stations, consider the following safety measures:

  • Always place portable fuel containers on the ground away from all possible ignition sources when open for filling (figure 1).
  • Flammable liquids should never be decanted inside vehicles or on trailers, boats, caravans or motorcycles.
  • Portable fuel containers to be filled at service stations are limited to a maximum of 25 litres.
  • Portable fuel containers should seal effectively and be of an approved type.
  • Look for UN package approval markings which indicate that the container has been manufactured to meet the mandatory requirements of the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods Code by road and rail (ADG Code).
  • Use containers designed for the storage of fuel.
    • Plastic, metal or equivalent containers that bear the marking AS/NZ 2906 should meet the Australian Standard for portable fuel containers.
    • UN package approval markings will indicate that the container is manufactured to meet the mandatory requirements of the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by road and rail (ADG Code).
    • Drink bottles or plastic five litre oil containers are not designed for the storage of fuel and should not be used.
  • Keep one hand on the container while filling to reduce the likelihood of static electricity build up and discharge.
  • Use an earthing strap if there is one supplied by the service station
  • Ensure the container cap is replaced tightly on the filled container before attempting to lift and place the container back in the vehicle.
  • Transport portable fuel containers in a secured and upright position, away from heat sources, such as the sun, in a well ventilated space.
Person filling a purpose built fuel container at a service station. One hand is on the container while they use the fuel pump. The fuel container is place on the ground and away from possible ignition sources (in this case the car and the fuel pump station)
Always place containers firmly on the ground and use approved containers.

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