Petrol station

Petrol stations are busy places with lots of vehicle and pedestrian traffic. They also store and dispense large amounts of hazardous substances, especially flammable substances such as petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). That's why it's very important to have good systems and processes in place for making sure people stay healthy and safe.

What are the risks?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), every business has a responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, and that others are not put at risk by the work of the business (for example, customers, visitors, children and young people, or the general public).

First, you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

The following are examples of only some of the health and safety risks for people in the retail fuels sector. We also provide some general guidance on how to manage your work health and safety risks.

Compressed air systems are a risk if equipment is used incorrectly.

How are workers and others harmed?

Workers and others could be harmed by:

  • If pressure gauges display incorrect information, a customer’s tires may be overfilled potentially leading to a car accident later on.
  • Compressed air can break through skin and cause minor injuries, but if the air enters into the bloodstream, and travels to the brain or heart, stroke or heart attack symptoms can occur.
  • Blowing air from a compressed air system into your mouth can cause ruptures in the lungs or stomach.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

Here are some examples:

  • Make sure that the air system is located within sight of workers to ensure constant supervision.
  • Display clear information on the use of the air system, eg the driver should check the correct tyre pressure.
  • Train workers in the safe use of the equipment.
  • Ensure equipment is well maintained and pressure gauges are accurate.
  • Make sure all equipment is securely locked away whenever the petrol station is unattended.

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Petrol stations are busy places – watch out for other cars, people and structures to prevent a collision.

How are workers and others harmed?

Workers and others could be harmed by:

  • Being trapped between a vehicle and a structure
  • Vehicles colliding with each other or a structure
  • Being hit by a vehicle
  • Items that fall off vehicles (unsecured or unstable loads)
  • Falling from a vehicle

Other things to take into account include:

  • Drivers/operators/pedestrians affected by drugs, alcohol or fatigue (extreme tiredness).
  • Drivers/operators/pedestrians affected by medical events (eg heart attacks).
  • Environmental conditions (slippery or unstable ground, low light, fog).
  • Mechanical failure (eg faulty steering or bad brakes).
  • Driver distractions (eg cell-phones, noise, work pressures, home pressures).
  • Vehicles operated outside their limits or capabilities – the wrong vehicle for the job.
  • Anything that might block the drivers’ view.
  • When a person is hit by a truck or other vehicle or equipment, or a vehicle or equipment hits something else, the consequences can be severe for the person and for the business. For example:
  • The person may suffer crush injuries or fractures, or die.
  • A business may have to deal with property damage, reputational damage, service disruption, and increased insurance costs.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

Here are some examples:

  • Isolate vehicles and plant from people working on the site.
  • Ensure reversing warning devices (eg sounds or lights) are working
  • Turn on hazard lights if the vehicle is a temporary hazard.
  • Use spotters or dedicated traffic controllers to manage traffic and pedestrian movements.
  • Provide adequate lighting on site so drivers, workers and others can see what they are doing and can also be seen by others.
  • Encourage drivers visiting a site for the first time to walk the route and plan how they will move their vehicle around the site.
  • Consider having a policy and process for drug and alcohol screening /testing. See Drugs, alcohol and work on the Employment New Zealand website.
  • To minimise driver fatigue, manage when drivers work and how long they work hours and work duration to minimise fatigue
  • Collaborate with other businesses on site to coordinate vehicle movements.
  • Where you can, have a one-way system to reduce the need for vehicles to reverse on site.
  • Provide warning signs at all entrances and exits to the site.
  • Ensure workers wear high visibility clothing.

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Lone workers – particularly those working late night shifts – may be at increased risk of confrontation or even violence. They can also be at increased risk of injury where some work tasks are more challenging to do unaccompanied.

How are workers harmed?

Lone workers can be at greater risk of threats, verbal or physical violence. This can affect workers physically and mentally, resulting in increased stress levels, decreased emotional wellbeing, reduced coping strategies and lower work performance.

Lone workers may also be in situations where they need to use machinery, manoeuvre equipment, lift heavy loads or use hazardous substances that may be too difficult or dangerous to be carried out unaccompanied.

Employers need to be aware of any additional health and safety risks that could arise from work being done by workers in lone / unaccompanied situations. Workers should be involved when considering the potential risks and measures that will be put in place to control them.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

Employers should understand the situations where people work alone and consider some of the following questions:

  • Is there a safe way in and out of the workplace, eg for a lone person working out of regular business hours where the workplace could be locked up?
  • What is the risk of violence and/or aggression?
  • Are there any reasons why the individual might be more vulnerable than others and be particularly at risk if they work alone (eg if they are young, pregnant, have a medical condition, are disabled, or a trainee)?
  • Does the workplace present other specific risks to the lone worker, eg handling equipment, such as portable ladders or trestles, that one person could have difficulty handling?
  • Are chemicals or hazardous substances being used that may pose a particular risk someone working alone?
  • Does the work involve lifting objects too large for one person?
  • If the lone worker’s first language is not English, are suitable arrangements in place to ensure clear communications, especially in an emergency?

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Removing storage tank covers, or lifting gas cylinders or other fluid containers, can put workers at risk of serious injury.

How are workers harmed?

Workers are at risk of injury from lifting and carrying particularly when:

  • a load is too heavy, it’s difficult to grasp, or it’s too large
  • the physical effort is too strenuous
  • they are required to bend and twist when handling heavy loads.

When a person reaches for items above shoulder height, their back becomes arched and their arms act as long levers. This makes the load difficult to control and significantly increases the risk of injury.

Injuries and conditions can include:

  • muscle sprains and strains
  • injuries to muscles, ligaments, intervertebral discs and other structures in the back
  • injuries to soft tissues such as nerves, ligaments and tendons in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck or legs
  • abdominal hernias
  • chronic pain.

Some of these conditions are known as repetitive strain injury (RSI), occupational overuse syndrome (OOS), cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) and work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WRMSD).

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

Here are some examples:

  • Use mechanical lifting aids or lifting equipment and ensure they are used properly and maintained in accordance with manufacturer specifications
  • Train workers in proper lifting techniques.
  • Provide suitable equipment eg keys for lifting manhole covers.
  • Avoid lifting items which are too heavy - use a trolley or castors where possible.
  • Position shelving and racking in storage areas at accessible heights.
  • Ensure workers are not exposed to repetitive or high impact work for long periods of time. Consider job sharing or job rotation.

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Respiratory problems, dermatitis or chemical burns can be caused by exposure to substance hazardous to health.

How are workers and others harmed?

Workers and others can be exposed to risks from substances hazardous to health in three ways:

  • Inhalation: Breathing in toxic vapours, mists, gases or fumes from hazardous substances.
  • Skin absorption: Hazardous substances getting onto your skin can be absorbed and enter your blood stream.
  • Being swallowed or ingested: Hazardous substances can be swallowed accidently, eg if you eat or smoke without washing your hands after using them.

The long-term effects from exposure can include:

  • sleep disorders
  • memory loss
  • cancer
  • damage to your internal organs like the liver and kidneys
  • damage to an unborn child
  • fertility problems
  • death

What can you do?

The information provided here is general in nature and aims to provide an understanding of the principles involved in managing the risks from substances hazardous to health.

Businesses should:

  • Talk to workers about hazardous products used at work, what the risks are, and how to keep safe handling and using each product.
  • Turn on any fans or ventilation systems.
  • Find out whether the substances used need to be stored away from other substances.
  • Know what to do in an emergency.
  • Provide workers with appropriate safety gear.
  • Encourage workers to wash their hands before eating or smoking.

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to work situation.

You can also find out which controls apply to your hazardous substance by searching for it in the Hazardous Substances Calculator(external link).

 

Petrol is a highly volatile and flammable liquid that gives off vapours.

How are workers and others harmed?

Because of petrol’s high volatility, there is always a risk of a fire and/or an explosion if there is a source of ignition nearby, eg a naked flame, an electrical spark, cigarettes or similar.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

There are some basic principles for managing petrol safely at a petrol station:

  • No naked lights in the vicinity of petrol
  • Never smoke within 20 metres of petrol
  • Never refuel a hot engine or an engine that is running. Shut down the engine and let it cool off for at least 10 minutes. The highest temperatures attained by a small engine occur immediately after shutdown, so it is not safe to refuel then.
  • Use only approved petrol containers. When transporting containers, be sure they are secured in the vehicle. Fill containers to no more than 95 percent of the container to allow room for thermal expansion. Ensure containers have secure lids.
  • Never remove the cap from a petrol tank while the engine is hot, combustible vapour can flow out and come in contact with manifolds, exhaust pipes and other hot engine parts.
  • Do not leave petrol containers in direct sunlight or in the boot of a car.
  • Never store petrol containers or equipment with petrol tanks near a flame, eg natural gas water heaters or heating systems.
  • Do not use electronic equipment such as cell phones near petrol. A spark from the electronics could ignite the petrol.
  • When fuel is transferred from a container into a vehicle, follow basic health and safety precautions:
    • Decant (pour) in the open air - not inside the garage;
    • Use a pouring spout or funnel.
    • If clothing is splashed with fuel, change it immediately.

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Fuel and oil spills, or snow and ice on the forecourt can put workers and others at risk of slip, trip or fall injuries.

How are workers and others harmed?

When someone falls as a result of a slip or trip, the injury can range from minor (bruises and scrapes) to more serious, including broken bones or head trauma. The severity of the injury will depend on the circumstances.

Examples of how injuries can be caused include:

  • wet and oily surfaces
  • weather hazards such as snow and ice
  • poor lighting
  • clutter (cables and pipes)
  • uneven surfaces and changes in floor levels/steps
  • general forecourt obstacles.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Supplies of industrial salt mixed with fine gravel can be kept and spread on the forecourt during icy conditions and also used promptly to absorb and clean up any fuel or oil spill.
  • Workers should be trained on how to deal with minor spillages.

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Violence can take many forms – ranging from physical assault and verbal abuse to intimidation and low-level threatening behaviour. Violence or threats of violence are never acceptable.

Our guidance violence at work for customer service areas and lone workers provides more information.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), every business has a responsibility to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and any others who could be who could be put at risk by the work of the business, for example, customers, visitors, children and young people, or the general public.

First, you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. 

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