Toolbox Talk: Fill Up Safely

We wouldn’t need this post if we could simply drive the crane or haul the compressor to the comer gas station every time it needed fuel. But on a construction site, nine times out of ten it’s not practical to bring the equipment to the fueling site. So you bring the fuel to the equipment. Since gasoline is specially manufactured to be one of the most explosive of all flammable liquids, that’s how it works in the engine, we need to take special precautions in transporting and using it.

Whether you are fueling fixed, semi-portable or self-propelled machines, the rules are the same: fuel while the engine is cold, shut off the engine, wipe up spills immediately, and no smoking. Fueling should be done in well ventilated areas, away from flammable surroundings or ignition sources such as sparks, heat, static electricity, or faulty wiring. The same sources we stay away from when using any flammable liquid. When large quantities of fuel are needed, self-propelled tank vehicles are the safest way to transport fuel. Portable tanks with hand operated pumps can be used in some cases, if the terrain permits.

These tanks should be positioned on stable ground and blocked and protected from rolling when fueling. They don’t need to be bonded or grounded if the metal nozzle is in contact with the fuel tank being filled. Take special care to avoid spilling. Drain the hose after fueling so fuel won’t be spilled in the next fueling operation. Never position the fueling tank so that the gas must travel through more than 15 feet of unsupported hose, or where the hose must be pulled tight to reach the tank being filled. When they’re not in use, park portable tanks out of the way of moving equipment, with wheels blocked, if the ground is not level. For smaller fueling operations, where fuel is in a hand carried portable container, be sure the container has a sturdy carrying handle with a flexible metal spark arrester spout small enough to fit in the tank opening and it is equipped with a spill proof sealable lid. The tank should be designed for this use and clearly labeled.

The most important thing to remember in fueling operations is to keep the explosion inside the engine where it belongs. Remember always shut off the engine and other nearby engines while fueling, fuel cold engines only, wipe up spills immediately, and stay away from ignition sources.

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