Health and Safety service is responsible for ensuring safety at sites where petrol is delivered, stored and dispensed.

Petrol is a highly flammable liquid and gives off flammable vapour even at very low temperatures. When this vapour is mixed with air in proportions between 1% and 8% a risk of fire or explosion exists. Petrol vapour is heavier than air and does not disperse easily in still conditions. It tends to sink to the lowest possible level of its surroundings and may accumulate in tanks, cavities, drains, pits or other depressions.

Flammable atmospheres may also exist where clothing or other absorbent material or substances are contaminated with petrol. Petrol vapour can have acute or chronic effects if inhaled and therefore should be considered in the assessment required under the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR).

The petroleum licensing authority is the Health and Safety service who are responsible for ensuring safety at sites where petrol is delivered, stored and dispensed.

The keeping of petrol must be in accordance with conditions attached to a licence issued under the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928. When an Inspector appointed by the licensing authority visits a petrol filling station the aim is to ensure the observance, maintenance and, where necessary, the improvement of safety standards.

Other safety-related legislation is enforced by district councils or the HSE, dependent on the main activity at the premises concerned.

Safety aspects of petroleum delivery, storage and dispensing are the responsibility of the Health and Safety service. Such officers work to, and are able to give advice on, nationally produced guidance such as:
The Institute of Petroleum (blue) book: Guidance for the Design, Construction, Modification and Maintenance of Petrol Filling Stations (2nd Edition).

Assessing and controlling the risk of fire and explosion at sites where petrol is stored and dispensed as a fuel.

Other Health and Safety Considerations
In addition to the general duties established under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (s.2, 3, 4, 7 & 8) the following legislation may also be of relevance in premises visited by local authority health and safety inspectors:
  1. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. (Risk assessment, appointment of competent persons etc)
  2. DSEAR 2002.
  3. Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)
  4. Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  5. Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Petrol and DSEAR 2002
Aspiration is the entry of liquid into the lungs following swallowing and subsequent vomiting. Petrol is classified as 'Harmful by ingestion' owing to this aspiration hazard i.e. the risk of chemical pneumonitis, and not because of its acute toxicity i.e. poisoning, properties. Petrol is also classified as a skin irritant, due to its potential to cause dermatitis. The presence of up to 5% benzene means that petrol is classified as Carcinogenic, Category 2 (See element on 'Carcinogens' in this manual for further guidance).

Under DSEAR 2002 a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is required for all jobs carried out involving petrol. This may involve emergency procedures (spillages or accidental ingestion), protective clothing to prevent skin contact and precautions to control exposure by inhalation.

Petrol - general safety
Where petrol might be used (eg. mobile equipment, generators) or workers exposed to other petrol fire/explosion risks (eg. garage workshops) an assessment needs to be carried out on the risks involved to ensure that adequate control measures are taken. Leaflets giving advice on petrol safety are available, covering safe storage, carriage and use.

When draining petrol tanks, appropriate advice includes:
  • Choose a level, well-ventilated area, preferably out of doors.
  • Never drain petrol over a pit.
  • Keep all sources of ignition well away.
  • Use a proper fuel retriever or syphon
  • If draining into a container, use a funnel
  • Do not attempt hot work on petrol tanks
Checklist - petrol and petrol filling stations
  1. Have you carried out a DSEAR assessment regarding exposure to petrol?
  2. As a premises storing/dispensing petrol as a fuel do you comply with the licence issued by your Petroleum Licensing authority?
  3. For other premises where petrol is used or handled, have you carried out a risk assessment for the activities concerned?
  4. Have you implemented appropriate measures to control the fire/explosion risks identified in your risk assessment?
  5. Have you informed or instructed employees of the health and safety risks associated with petrol and appropriate precautions that should be taken?
Requirements for the Unloading of Petroleum Spirit at Petrol Filling Stations and Other Licenced Premises
The Licensee must ensure that all Petrol Storage Tanks, dipsticks, gauges, offset fills and vapour recovery pipes are clearly labelled.

Before Delivery of Petroleum Spirit Begins
A competent person (other than the tanker driver) must be nominated by the Licensee to be in charge of the storage tanks.
A competent person means a person with enough practical and theoretical knowledge and actual experience to carry out the task safely and effectively.

This person must not allow delivery to begin until:
  1. The tank has been checked to ensure delivery can be accepted without overflow.
  2. The vapour balance hose (if applicable) and then the delivery hose have been correctly connected.
  3. Any other dipping opening in that tank has been securely closed.
  4. The tank has been isolated from other storage tanks by the closure of suitable valves.
  5. Part A of the Delivery Certificate has been filled in by the competent person in the presence of the tanker driver. This must be done only AFTER compliance with 1-4 above.
The driver of the road tanker should then complete Part B of the Certificate. The driver should not begin delivery into the storage tank until:
  1. He has correctly connected the vapour balance hose and the delivery hose to the appropriate tank and tanker faucets.
  2. The competent person is keeping watch in close proximity to the tanker.
During the delivery
The competent person must stay in the vicinity of the tanker/tanks and keep a constant watch to prevent a hazardous situation arising.
The driver must keep a constant watch on the hoses and tanker to ensure, as far as possible, that no petrol escapes.
The competent person must also keep a constant watch on the hoses and tanker to ensure, as far as possible, that no petrol escapes.

After the delivery
The competent person must give the top copy of the Delivery Certificate to the tanker driver who must then give it to the petrol supplier who must keep it for not less than 12 months after the delivery.

The second copy of the Certificate must be retained by the Licensee on the site for not less than 12 months after the delivery.
This is an abbreviated form of the Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Regulations 1996 Schedule 12.
Failure to comply with these Regulations may lead to prosecution and a fine of up to 5,000.

If you have a query please contact Health and Safety on 01582 510330