Safety with Fuel on the Construction Site
Procedure for storing fuel on Construction Sites
- Where the circumstances require, fuel may be stored in an approved mobile refuelling tank.
- Mobile fuelling tanks must be stored in an area where it cannot be hit by vehicles or other equipment. The fuel storage area also must be located away from drainage channels.
- Where a mobile refuelling tank is in use and there is a danger of spillage contaminating a stream, waterway, or sewer, the refuelling tank shall be at a location that complies with diking requirements unless double-wall tanks are used.
- All highway tanks and mobile refuelling tanks are to be properly labelled in accordance with the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulation.
- Fire extinguishers shall be located near the fuel storage areas and be of a suitable type and size to permit the evacuation of workers during a fire.
- Any worker who may be required to use a fire extinguisher shall be trained in its use.
- Smoking will not be permitted in the area of the fuel storage facility and “No Smoking” signs will be posted. Smoking will not be permitted during any fuelling operation. “No Smoking” signs are to be maintained in good condition.
- Waste oils, lubricants, greasy and oily rags, or other materials subject to spontaneous combustion will be retained in a labelled container used for that purpose exclusively and will be properly disposed of at frequent intervals.
- Appropriate emergency spill equipment will be available in the fuel storage area.
- No “hot work” shall take place within 3 metres of a storage zone
The act of refuelling can lead to fires and explosions if the fuel is somehow ignited. This has the potential to turn into a catastrophic event which can cause severe burns or death to people, not to mention damage to equipment, materials and buildings on-site, which has financial consequences.
There are a number of precautions which need to be followed whenever refuelling is taking place. These include not having engines or motors running whilst putting fuel in, and not smoking when refuelling or wherever fuel is present. If the fuel were to come in contact with a flame, spark or hot surface it can instantaneously ignite and cause a major fire.
Those performing the refuelling should have been provided with health and safety training in order to understand the potential risks, as well as instruction on the correct operation of the machinery, such as the correct method of refuelling that particular piece of equipment and how to switch it off fully before commencing with the refuelling.
Storage of Fuel
Many construction sites will store fuel somewhere on the site so that equipment can be refuelled quickly and more conveniently. Storing a quantity of fuel is obviously a potential danger and requires certain health and safety considerations such as ensuring that storage facilities/tanks and pipework are properly maintained to prevent fuel from leaking out. Not only is this an environmental hazard as it will damage wildlife or pollute watercourses, but is also a fire danger if the leaked fuel comes into contact with a hot surface or spark generated from a cigarette or construction activities such as grinding or welding.
Along with proper maintenance, the location of fuel storage facilities is an important factor in site safety. The area should preferably be situated away from activities, and be clearly marked to reduce the likelihood of fuel tanks or pipes being damaged accidentally. There should also be sufficient room for vehicles to manoeuvre easily to reduce the chances of the vehicle hitting the storage tanks.
With fuel being an expensive commodity, it is often a target for thieves. It is therefore vital that refuelling areas and fuel storage tanks have sufficient security and measures in place such as perimeter fences in order to prevent unauthorised access.
Whilst prevention is the overriding aim, plans need to be pre-made and equipment needs to be available in the event of a fire or explosion happening, including appropriate fire extinguishers, sand buckets, alarm points, assembly areas and emergency shut-offs.
[Recognition to BCF Group]