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Refuelling Risks on a Construction Site


Introduction

Whether it be a large construction site with a fleet of vehicles operating upon it, or a tiny area with one small generator, virtually every construction site will require refuelling activities to take place in order to keep the vital equipment running. The flammable nature of fuel means there is a high risk of a serious incident occurring if suitable health and safety procedures and safeguards are not observed.


Refuelling

The act of refuelling can lead to fires and explosions if the fuel is somehow ignited. This has the potential to turn into a catastrophic event which can cause severe burns or death to people, not to mention damage to equipment, materials and buildings on site, which has financial consequences.


There are a number of precautions which need to be followed whenever refuelling is taking place. These include not having engines or motors running whilst putting fuel in, and not smoking when refuelling or wherever fuel is present. If the fuel were to come in contact with a flame, spark or hot surface it can instantaneously ignite and cause a major fire.


Those performing the refuelling should have been provided with health and safety training in order to understand the potential risks, as well as instruction on the correct operation of the machinery, such as the correct method of refuelling that particular piece of equipment and how to switch it off fully before commencing with the refuelling.


Storage of Fuel

Many construction sites will store fuel somewhere on the site so that equipment can be refuelled quickly and more conveniently. Storing a quantity of fuel is obviously a potential danger and requires certain health and safety considerations such as ensuring that storage facilities/tanks and pipework is properly maintained to prevent fuel from leaking out. Not only is this an environmental hazard as it will damage wildlife or pollute watercourses, but is also a fire danger if the leaked fuel comes into contact with a hot surface or spark generated from a cigarette or construction activities such as grinding or welding.


Along with proper maintenance, the location of fuel storage facilities is an important factor in site safety. The area should preferably be situated away from activities, and be clearly marked to reduce the likelihood of fuel tanks or pipes being damaged accidentally. There should also be sufficient room for vehicles to manoeuvre easily to reduce the chances of the vehicle hitting the storage tanks.


Other Issues

With fuel being an expensive commodity, it is often a target for thieves. It is therefore vital that refuelling areas and fuel storage tanks have sufficient security and measures in place such as perimeter fences in order to prevent unauthorised access.


Whilst prevention is the overriding aim, plans need to be pre-made and equipment needs to be available in the event of a fire or explosion happening, including appropriate fire extinguishers, sand buckets, alarm points, assembly areas and emergency shut-offs.



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