Flammable liquids- A burning issue

This publication is for: 
BuilderEmployee / workerEmployer

A warning has been issued on the dangers of storing and handling flammable liquids, particularly petrol.

A serious accident involving a jerrycan full of petrol renewed calls for caution in the handling and storage of flammable liquids.

A man was seriously burned after a jerrycan containing petrol ignited while he was attempting to re-fuel a compressor in the rear of a utility.

The cause of ignition has not been established. The incident occurred without warning, and even after extensive investigations, no obvious cause has been identified. This shows how dangerous petrol can be. Transferring any flammable liquid can cause static buildup and sparking in some circumstances, and synthetic clothes can also cause a static spark that can ignite vapours.

There are several ways of reducing the dangers associated with handling flammable liquids such as petrol:

  • machinery should be taken away from the refuelling area before starting it, and refuelling should not be done in confined areas;
  • machinery should not be refuelled while it is running;
  • carrying jerrycans or containers in the boot of a car is not advisable, as shaking causes petrol to vaporise and expand, resulting in potential ignition when the cap is removed;
  • container caps should always be removed slowly to release vapours, and the opening should be pointed away from the face and body;
  • containers of fuel should never be left in the sun or near a flame or any other source of ignition, and there should be no smoking in the vicinity;
  • containers should always be approved for carrying flammable liquids;
  • place containers on the ground when filling them and keep the nozzle in contact with the container to prevent static.

Further information on the storage and use of flammable liquids.

Further information

For more information contact WorkSafe or the Explosives and Dangerous Goods branch of the Department of Mines and Petroleum.

Fact sheet
Last updated 23 May 2014

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