When you work in the green industry, gas comes with the territory. Landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping managers and employees all understand gas is an everyday part of using modern machinery. You try your best to store and pour gasoline as safely as possible, yet each gas can is just one human error away from becoming a fireball.
Are you aware of all the risks involved with fueling your edger, trimmer, lawn mower, or chainsaw?
Here are some tips to reduce the risks of using gasoline by handling and storing it in the safest manner possible.
Choosing The Right Gas Can
Gas belongs in a gas can. Yes, that’s quite obvious, but many people are tempted to store gas in milk jugs, water bottles, and other unapproved containers. Containers like these are at a high risk of leaking gasoline or exploding due to pressure. You didn’t come here asking for a lecture, but please, store your gas in OSHA-approved containers.
Not all gas cans are the same, however, and using your typical plastic red gas can on the job could be against the law. OSHA standards state, "Only approved containers and portable tanks shall be used for storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. Approved safety cans or Department of Transportation-approved containers shall be used for the handling and use of flammable liquids in quantities of 5 gallons or less.”
What are your options? DOT-approved cans are required by OSHA standards, and the DOT does not approve the use of cheap plastic gas cans. A safe and effective choice is a metal gas can with a flame arrestor. Flame arrestors prevent sparks from traveling up the nozzle into the store of liquid gas, adding an extra layer of protection when you handle gasoline.
Filling a Gas Can Correctly
Being smart with gasoline begins with filling your gas can. Each of the following measures reduces the risk of a static electric spark which can potentially ignite the gas inside your gas can.
- Don’t fill your gas can inside your car or truck bed. The build-up in static electricity from a car carpet or plastic truck bed liner is enough to cause a spark that can set your gas can on fire. This can occur with both plastic and metal cans.
- Touch the container with the gas dispenser nozzle before removing the container lid.
- Keeping the nozzle in contact with the gas can Inlet also reduces the risk of static shock during filling.
Never fill your gas can more the 95% full. Gasoline expands, and an overly full gas can is at a greater risk for leaking and exploding. If you do happen to spill gas during filling, wait for gas to evaporate before loading it into your vehicle.
Safely Moving a Gas Can
Transporting gasoline presents its own set of challenges. Gas fumes can be harmful, so keep gas cans away from passenger areas in your vehicle as much as possible. The top rack or bed of your truck may be a good place to secure gas cans away from people riding in your vehicle.
Empty gas cans can also produce fumes. Treat empty cans with the same amount of caution as you would a full gas can. If you have to transport gas cans in your car or in the cab of your truck, remove them as soon as possibly can.
Always remember to secure gas cans in an upright position to prevent spillage while you’re moving them.
Storing a Gas Can
Gas cans (empty or full) shouldn’t be stored in your vehicle. So, despite the transient nature of landscaping work, you’ll need a permanent location to store the gasoline required for your equipment.
The safest option for large amounts of gas is a flammable liquid storage cabinet. This kind of cabinet may even be required by law depending on the quantity of gas you keep on hand. Any cabinet you use to store gas should be made of non-reactive metal and clearly labeled. Its doors should never be blocked and items should not be stored on top of the cabinet.
Gasoline in storage should always be kept at room temperature. Keep gas at least 50 feet away from sources of ignition, like pilot lights. Also keep gas cans away from electronics, which could expose the gas to a static electric spark.
Handling Gas Safely
As a green industry employee, make sure you know how to keep yourself safe when handling gas. Just as you learn how to use your equipment safely and protect yourself from the elements while at work, educate yourself on the potential risks of filling, transporting, and storing gas cans.