Most workplaces appear to be safe, but many contain liquids such as gasoline that have the potential to be harmful to employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) addresses the various issues involving gasoline and other flammable liquids in the workplace with written instructions on how to store and handle these substances.
29 CFR 1926.152(a) of OSHA regulations states that only approved containers and portable tanks shall be used to handle gasoline and other flammable and combustible liquids. Approved safety cans and Department of Transportation-approved containers can be used to handle gasoline if the container is five gallons or less. If there is one gallon or less of gasoline, then the gas can be kept in its original container.
29 CFR 1926.155 defines a safety can as "...an approved closed container, of not more than five gallons capacity, having a flash arresting screen, spring-closing lid and spout cover and so designed that it will safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure." It also states that the word "approved" means "equipment that has been listed or approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory..." Some of these laboratories include Factory Mutual Engineering Corp., Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. and federal agencies who issue approvals for this safety equipment, like the Bureau of Mines or the U.S. Coast Guard.
Gasoline may not be stored in areas used for exits, under or by stairways or in areas through which people normally pass. If storing more than 25 gallons of gasoline, the gasoline must be kept in an OSHA-approved storage cabinet. These cabinets must be marked with a sign that conspicuously reads, "Flammable--Keep Fire Away." No more than 60 gallons of gasoline can be stored in a cabinet. No more than three cabinets can be kept in one storage area. An OSHA-approved inside storage area must be constructed for more than 60 gallons of gasoline.
Storing Other Materials
If a material can react with water and create a fire hazard, it cannot be kept in the same room as gasoline.
Transferring Between Containers
Transferring gasoline from one storage container to another can only be done if the containers are electrically bonded or interconnected. A closed piping system via safety cans must be used when transferring or drawing gasoline from vessels, containers or tanks inside or outside of a building. Any method of transferring gasoline that uses air pressure on the container or portable tanks is prohibited.
Service and Refueling Areas
Dispensing hoses and nozzles at service and refueling areas must be OSHA-approved. Gasoline at these areas must be stored in OSHA-approved closed containers, underground tanks or above-ground portable tanks. Smoking is not permitted in these areas.
- gasoline warning image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com