Safety Policy and Procedures
The purpose of this information note is to provide guidance on the safe handling and storage of
small quantities of petrol based on Department Circular No. 2017-11-0011: Revised Rules and Regulations Governing the Business of Retailing Liquid Fuels.
Petrol is a highly flammable liquid, with a very low flash point, which means that
it gives off a vapor which can easily be set on fire (ignited). When petrol is not handled
safely, it has the potential to cause a serious fire and/or explosion if there is a source of
ignition nearby, for example a naked flame, an electrical spark or similar. Petrol is also
harmful to health, as it can cause damage to skin and eyes on contact, and may cause
dizziness and respiratory problems, if it is inhaled.
Safe Storage of Petrol
Petrol must be stored and handled with care due to the risk of injury, fire or
explosion associated with it. The highly flammable vapor from petrol is capable of
being ignited at any time; therefore, it is important to take precautions to avoid any
sources of potential ignition, such as a flame, spark or heat source, if there is likely
to be petrol vapour present.
The vapour from petrol is heavier than air and can build up in low lying areas such
as drainage systems, sumps or inspection pits. Therefore handling petrol in or near
such areas should be avoided, and no potential sources of ignition, e.g. naked light,
smoking, heaters, hot engines etc., should be allowed in such low lying areas where
vapour is likely to build up.
When storing petrol in quantities of more than 20 litres in total, or in containers
over 10 litres rated capacity, the storage place must be:
- separated from any occupied building
- given at least 6m clearance from any other building, combustible material or
- other flammable substances
- provided with adequate ventilation
- Provided with a suitable fire extinguisher(s) (dry powder or foam).
- capable of keeping any leak or spill from spreading
- lockable to prevent unauthorised access
- Sign-posted with a hazard warning (flammable liquid) and “no smoking” sign.
- If you are planning to store petrol in containers exceeding 23 litres rated
- capacity or the total quantity exceeds 100 litres, you must inform your local
- licensing authority (Fire Authority or Harbour Authority).
- Limits on the quantity of petrol you can carry in a vehicle
For private individuals:
It is recommended that when storing and transporting petrol you should limit the quantity to the least amount required and ideally no more than 3 x 5 litre containers to be carried in a vehicle at any time.
All containers used to store and transport petrol must be suitable, leak-proof, and made of metal or other material of adequate strength and construction.
Typical examples of appropriate containers made of plastics and metal “jerry cans”.
Petrol containers must be marked and labelled with a flammable hazard label and the words “PETROLEUM,
Highly Flammable Capacity ___Litres”
Flammable liquid hazard warning label
Avoid all sources of ignition, e.g. naked light, smoking, heaters, hot engines/exhaust, mobile phones etc.
Persons under the age of 15 may not handle or dispense petrol.
When filling a suitable container on a retail or private store from a dispensing pump you should:
Check that the container is less than 25 litres capacity
Place the container on the ground when filling, taking care not to over-fill the container. Do not use a funnel as this can lead to overfilling and spillage.
Insert the pump nozzle in to the container maintaining contact between the container and the nozzle.
Always fill the container slowly and leave a space when filling a container – the maximum filling capacity for any petrol container is 95%
(5% space left for thermal expansion).
If you have carried a container in a vehicle before filling, the container should be removed from the vehicle and placed on the ground. This will reduce the possibility of a static discharge that can ignite petrol vapour.
When dispensing petrol from a container (typically at a private store) with a capacity greater than 45 litres, a suitable barrel pump must be used or other suitable device having a vapour tight seal. You should also ensure a proper electrical earth is established to reduce static build up as static sparks can ignite petrol vapour.
Dealing with Leaks & Spills
ensure it is safe to approach the area and that there is no source of ignition present
control the spill or leak by identifying the source and treating appropriately, e.g. secure the lid on an overturned container or drum
prevent the spread of the spill by using a suitable absorbent material, e.g. sand/earth or commercial spill kits and apply directly to the petrol and / or use as a barrier
small spills (less than 100ml) may be left to evaporate naturally if safe to do so, i.e. the petrol / petrol vapour is not likely to enter drains or manholes, is away from sources of ignition and is away from other people who may be affected by it
dispose of used absorbent material safely. Contaminated material may be placed in to a suitable container for safe disposal e.g. plastic container or heavy plastic bag securely sealed. Take the same precautions with contaminated material as for petrol itself. The hazard remains while petrol vapour is present.
if an oil interceptor is available (facility normally found on petrol service stations), wash any remaining petrol with water in to the interceptor.
As petrol is also harmful to health, the following precautions should be taken if you come in contact with petrol:
Wash any affected skin immediately with soap and water.
If eyes are affected, immediately irrigate with water and seek medical assistance.
If swallowed, do not induce vomiting, seek medical assistance at once.
Avoid inhalation of petrol vapour as this can cause dizziness and headaches and may lead to respiratory problems.
Contaminated clothing should be removed immediately and disposed of safely If in doubt, call the emergency services ( Add your Number)