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Devices for latching open fuel dispensing nozzle at a service station

Issued: 5 December 2013
Last Updated: 17 November 2016

Purpose

The purpose of this safety alert is to:

  • inform service station operators and their customers that latching open a fuel nozzle with any device is unsafe and illegal
  • advise service station operators to ensure customers do no use such devices while refuelling their vehicles
  • raise awareness of the increased risks of ignition and risk to people and property from such an ignition and fire at a service station.

Background

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) has become aware of a device being marketed to actively latch open a fuel nozzle. The product can be inserted into the nozzle handle during fuel filling operations to bypass the 'dead man's handle' element of the bowser operation. The user does not have to squeeze the handle, or touch the dispenser handle once the product flow has commenced.

Contributing factors

The use of a pin or other similar device to latch open a fuel nozzle increases the chance of spills and overfills, and the likelihood of static vapour fires as customers break contact with the nozzle while filling and then make contact again after filling.

The use of any such latching device on flammable liquid dispensers (i.e. for commercially available forms of petrol including E10) is contrary to the requirements of AS1940:The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids, which states specifically “the delivery nozzle for a flammable liquid dispenser intended to be operated by a customer shall not have a latching device. No item e.g. fuel cap, keys or any other device, shall be used to hold open a customer-operated nozzle.” (See section 7.4.2).

Service station operators have deliberately removed latching devices from self-fill petrol dispensers to achieve this outcome. There are a number of areas where the use of the dispenser locking device may lead to a breach of duties under work health and safety legislation.

Action required

Service station operators and their staff must remain vigilant ensuring that the public is not using latching devices during self-fill operations when filling up a vehicle with petrol.

A clear sign that a latching device may be in use is a dispenser pump running while:

  • there is no one controlling the refueling nozzle
  • the person is carrying out other tasks such as cleaning windows or checking oil simultaneously
  • attending to a child or sitting back in the vehicle.

If this occurs, the console operator must immediately stop the pump and not authorise further filling until the latching device has been removed and the dispenser manually operated.

Where possible the service station staff should explain to the user the additional hazard that the device creates, including that it:

  • bypasses a fuel system's safety feature
  • increases risk of ignition due to static electricity discharging
  • increases risk of spilled fuel if the nozzle high-liquid level cut off fails to operate.

Service station operators should consider options to help prevent the use of latching devices such as blocking off the pin holes on the nozzle handle. Discuss options with the fuel system designer and installer, which could include the use of a small self tapping grub screw or filling the holes with an epoxy resin as a cost effective resilient solution against pins being inserted.

The designer, manufacturer, importer and supplier of any device must ensure the device they are providing is without risk to people's health and safety. The 'dead man's handle' on a nozzle is an intrinsic part of a dangerous goods storage and handling system and a safety feature for such a system. A latching pin device bypasses this safety feature.

Further information

For more information about work health and safety legislation and hazardous chemical safety at service stations visit www.WorkSafe.qld.gov.au or call the WHS Infoline on 1300 362 128.

Further information is available from: