Several accidents have occurred in which workers were seriously burned when vapours from spilled gasoline ignited during the removal of a vehicle's gasoline tank.
Gas tanks are removed when rust-out or other damage makes repair or replacement necessary or for warranty work on equipment such as internal fuel pumps.
Conditions which give rise to hazardous vapour accumulations during the removal of tanks include spillage from the tank onto work surfaces and into pits, and evaporation from open containers used to store fuel from the tank.
Ignition sources include: standard trouble lights (which are not suitable for hazardous locations); smoking; compressors or other electrical sparking devices or tools; wet/dry shop vacuum cleaners; and nearby welding, cutting or grinding operations.
Most automobile service centres and repair shops. Also municipal and provincial garages, auto wreckers, vehicle manufacturers and race track operations.
The gasoline tank should be emptied before it is removed from the vehicle.
The vehicle's engine must be turned off during the draining and removal of the tank.
Whenever possible, the tank should be drained outdoors in an area where there are no ignition sources. However, in lieu of draining the tank outdoors, the use of an approved portable pump and storage tank shall be permitted.
Fuel drained from a gasoline tank shall be stored in approved safety cans.
The area where a gasoline tank is drained and removed from a vehicle must be adequately ventilated, and it must be isolated from activities or equipment which may cause an ignition.
Before hot work is performed on a gasoline tank:
Section 63 of Reg. 851, the Regulation for Industrial Establishments, must always be complied with when fuel is handled and when repairs on fuel tanks are carried out.
This Ministry of Labour Alert has no legal effect and does not constitute and is not a substitute for legal advice. If you require specific assistance with respect to the interpretation of a legislative provision and its potential application to you please contact your legal counsel.
Remember that while complying with occupational health and safety laws, you are also required to comply with applicable environmental laws.
Please photocopy Ministry of Labour Alerts, distribute them widely and post them where people will see them.