Every work site has flammable and combustible liquids. A flammable liquid is much more volatile than a combustible one, meaning its vapors or fumes can ignite at temperatures below 100°F and some even lower than 32°F. Some common work site flammable liquids include gasoline, alcohols, lacquer thinners and some paint thinners. This means that, at normal room temperatures, flammable liquids can give off enough vapors to form burnable mixtures with air. On the other hand, a combustible liquid must reach temperatures higher than 100°F to release enough vapors or fumes to ignite. Combustible liquids common at a job site include fuel oil, kerosene and linseed oil. Both classes of liquids pose a very serious fire hazard.
Gasoline is probably the best known and most widely used of the flammable or combustible liquids. Many on a work site have used gasoline to clean off their hands, a tool or a piece of equipment. Some workers may have spilled a bit or finished a cigarette while filling a vehicle’s fuel tank or container. These events happen all the time, but remember that these behaviors are extremely dangerous. To help prove this point, this article presents some facts you need to know about gasoline:
Refueling is a necessary part of the day at every work site. This makes it vital that the operations be conducted in a safe manner. The following are some things to remember when refueling, whether on the job or at home:
You should also properly store gasoline on the job site. Gasoline should always be stored in a Type I or II safety storage container. These containers control the gas vapors and provide an easy way to carry, dispense and store up to 5 gallons of gasoline. These containers must be able to withstand moderate mechanical shocks and will include vapor control; emergency venting; leak-tight, self-closing covers; and flame-arrestor-protected pour spouts. Most containers are made from rugged materials, such as stainless steel or polyethylene, and should have an independent testing laboratory listing or approval mark.
The main difference between Type I and II containers is the size of the pour spout. Type I has a wider spout for pouring gas into tanks or other large-mouth vessels while Type II’s smaller spout allows for more accurate pouring.
Having employees follow these safety suggestions during refueling can help to send them home safely.