Weekly Safety Meeting – Gasoline Safety

Gasoline is readily available and routinely used by people in their vehicles and motorized equipment. In spite of the routine use of gasoline, many people are unaware o or unappreciative of the dangers of gasoline. Gasoline is dangerous because it is highly volatile.

The fumes are capable of ignition up to 12 feet away from a source of gasoline. It can float on water and may spread long distances, making ignition and flashback possible. Gasoline may ignite from a nearby spark, flame, or even static electricity and become a “fireball” with a temperature of 15,000 degrees F.

Gasoline is common both on the job and outside the home for use in both vehicles and equipment we use every day. It is important to practice safe handling and storage of gasoline to avoid spills and

Improper use and storage of gasoline leads to many injuries as well as property damage year after year.

The following statistics are from the National Fire Protection Association on gasoline-related injuries and property loss incidents.

Annually, there are:

  • 500 fire deaths;
  • Several thousand injuries treated at hospitals;
  • 6,000+ home fires; and
  • $450M+ property damage.

Gasoline Characteristics:

Gasoline is a volatile, flammable liquid. It ranges from colorless to a pale brown or pink color with a strong distinctive odor. Generally, the odor of gasoline provides adequate warning of hazardous concentrations. Its vapors may travel to a source of ignition and flashback. Gasoline vapors are heavier than air and may collect in low-lying areas.

Gasoline Facts:

  • Gasoline does not burn. It is the gasoline vapors that burn;
  • Gasoline evaporates at temperatures as low as 45 degrees F below zero. The higher the temperature, the faster it evaporates and the heavier the buildup of dangerous vapors;
  • Gasoline vapors are heavier than air and will collect at the lowest point in an area, unless there is adequate air circulation;
  • An open flame is not necessary to ignite the gasoline vapors. One spark is all that is needed;
  • Gasoline can irritate the skin and cause a rash that can become infected. If you get it on your skin, wash it off with water right away;
  • If you get gasoline on your clothing, remove your clothing immediately. You could become a human torch; and
  • Gasoline has an auto-ignition temperature of 536 degrees F. Pay careful attention not to touch or be in close contact with high temperature items like exhausts and welded parts.

Gasoline Safety Tips:

Most gasoline injuries are preventable if gas is properly used and safely stored. Here are some helpful gasoline safety tips from the American Burn Association that you can use to train your employees to handle gas with care:

  • Don’t smoke or use matches, lighters, or other ignition sources anywhere around gas. And remember that gas vapors can travel far from gas containers in enclosed areas;
  • Use gasoline only in well-ventilated areas;
  • Turn off equipment and let cool before filling the gas tank;
  • Never use gasoline to start charcoal on a grill–use proper charcoal starter;
  • Never use gas as a cleaning fluid or solvent, or to clean your hands;
  • Don’t store gas cans in your vehicle;
  • Store gas in approved containers, in a cool, well-ventilated area (for example, in a shed or garage, but never in the house), and only keep a minimum amount on hand; and
  • Never use glass or plastic bottles for gasoline storage.

Breathing Gas Fumes Can Be Harmful:

Gasoline can also be a health hazard if you inhale concentrated fumes for too long or get it on your skin. Symptoms of overexposure to gas vapors include:

  • Respiratory problems such as coughing and trouble breathing;
  • Rash from skin contact with gasoline;
  • Irritation or burning in the eyes from gas splashes;
  • Dizziness;
  • Weakness, numbness in arms and legs, or burning sensation;
  • Rapid heartbeat; and
  • Nausea or vomiting.

If an employee experiences any symptoms from inhaling gas vapors, he or she should get to fresh air immediately. If symptoms persist, the employee should seek medical treatment right away. If an employee becomes unconscious from breathing gas vapors, co-workers should call 911 immediately.

Download flyer:  SMOTW_749_Gasoline Safety

Download Spanish flyer: SMOTW_749_Gasoline Safety_esp

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