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Toolbox Talk: Fuel Handling and Storage

By May 5, 2020 No Comments

Fuel Handling and Storage

Diesel and gasoline fuel can be used on job sites for some tools and equipment, however, improper handling of these types of fuel increases worker’s risk for serious injuries and even fatalities.

Fuel Facts

  • Both Diesel and gasoline fuel do not burn, it is the vapors that burn
  • Gasoline evaporates at temperatures as low as 45o F below zero. The higher the temperature, the faster it evaporates, and the heavier the buildup of dangerous vapors.
  • Diesel evaporates around 140o F depending on type of diesel
  • Both fuel vapors are heavier than air and will collect at the lowest point in an area, unless there’s adequate air circulation
  • An open flame is not necessary to ignite the fuel vapors, one spark is all that it takes
  • Fuel can irritate the skin and cause a rash that can become infected. If you get it on your skin, wash it off with water (and soap if possible) right away.
  • If you get gasoline on your clothing, remove contaminated clothing immediately. You could become a human torch.
  • Do not use gasoline to clean tools or parts, or to remove grease from your hands
  • Diesel has an auto-ignition temperature of 410o F and gasoline 536o Watch for contact with high temperature items like exhausts and welded parts.

Fuel Storage

Fuel must be stored in approved safety cans or other approved portable fuel containers, such as those marked as D.O.T. approved for transporting and transferring fuels to refuel vehicles and equipment. Unapproved containers can easily leak, spill fuel, or even rupture, leading to a potentially dangerous situation.

  • As a reference, see WAC 296-24-33009(2) (a). Only approved containers and portable tanks shall be used.  Metal containers and portable tanks meeting the requirements of and containing products authorized by Chapter I, Title 49 of the CFR materials regulations board, department of transportation), shall be deemed acceptable.
  • Secondary Containment as outlined in 40 CFR § 112.8 – Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan requirements for onshore facilities (excluding production facilities).
  • Mobile or portable storage containers such as 55-gallon drums, skid tanks, totes, bowsers, and emergency back-up generators (if greater than 55 gallons), also require general secondary containment.
  • Specific secondary containment is required when the mobile or portable containers (other than mobile refuelers) are in stationary, unattended mode and are not under the direct oversight or control of facility personnel. The specific secondary containment (for example, dikes or catch basins) must hold 100 percent of the capacity of the largest container and additional volume for precipitation (40 CFR 112.8(c)(11)).

Transferring Fuel from One Container to Another

Transfer fuel from one container to another only in areas free from open flames, sparks, and where there is proper ventilation. Clean up any spills immediately. Static electricity can be generated while pouring gasoline from one container to another. One method to prevent this build-up of static electricity is to keep the two metal containers in contact with one another. Or better yet, connect the containers with a bonding wire until you have finished pouring. Remember to label your secondary container with a Global Harmonization System compliant label.

Remember, safety is your best tool!