Sweeping Tip Clipboard

Portable Gasoline Container Safety Alert


(l to r) Mark Schwarze, past president of Schwarze Industries, Inc., Mark Carter, and Ranger Kidwell-Ross. This photo was taken when Carter was chosen as the recipient of American Sweeper's 1999 Award of Excellence in Sweeping.

"The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has received reports of spontaneous ignition when workers or others attempt to fill portable gasoline containers (gas cans) in the back of pickup trucks equipped with plastic bed liners, or in vehicles with carpeted or rubber-matted surfaces.

These fires result from the buildup of static electricity. The insulating effect of bed liners, carpeting or rubber mats prevents the static charge generated by gasoline flowing into containers from grounding. The discharge of this buildup to the grounded gasoline dispenser nozzle may cause a spark and ignite the gasoline. Both ungrounded metal (most hazardous) and plastic gas containers have been involved in these incidents.

Safe Practice and Recommendations:

Always place the gas can on the ground before filling. This allows grounding of the container. Touch the container with the nozzle prior to opening the lid, in order to provide a path to dissipate static charge to the ground. Keep the nozzle in contact with the container during filling. This dissipates static buildup from the flow of gasoline.

This Orange County, California, Fire Authority Safety Alert was provided by Mark Carter, of Bill's Sweeping. Have an idea that would be helpful to others in the industry? Please let us know what it is.

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