Fuel Can Safety
Jul 13, 12 | by: Bruce Smith
Staying one step ahead of OSHA; the best practices for safely transporting gasoline
By Tim Walton
Gas cans. Every contractor and landscaper has them in their truck, on the trailer or at the shop. You fill ‘em up, toss them in and go.
But I bet you have never given much thought to which portable gas cans are being used for your landscaping or construction business.
You should. There are actually a few government entities that are interested in which gas cans you use and how you transport them.
Their interests vary from saving the environment to preventing you from packing around a veritable bomb.
Not using the proper gas cans can be a costly mistake both physically and financially.
Here’s what we figured out that will hopefully give you some insight into staying safe and legal, or should we say, citation free.
Here’s the short take on the legal aspect. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that a gas can be a closed container that with a maximum capacity of 5 gallons.
The can must have a flash-arresting screen and a spring-closing lid, and be able to safely relieve internal pressure. “Safety cans,” which meet OSHA requirements, are exempt from most states’ spill-proof container regulations.
A legal fuel can must be approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as United Laboratory (UL), to satisfy OSHA requirements. Interestingly, flash-arresting screens are not included in the UL listing. (Note: being “UL Classified” is not the same as “UL Listed.”)
The Department of Transportation (DOT) considers flammable and combustible liquids to be hazardous materials and subject to strict transport rules.
There is, however, an exemption for Materials of Trade (MOT), which excludes gasoline used “to support the operation or maintenance of a motor vehicle (including its auxiliary equipment) or to directly support a principal business of a private motor carrier such as landscaping, pest control, painting, plumbing or welding.
Gasoline is a medium or lower hazard and therefore the maximum package is 8 gallons for liquids (which is higher than the OSHA requirement).
Packages of MOT must be leak proof, closed and secured in the vehicle against movement and damage. For gasoline, the packaging must be made of metal or plastic and meet OSHA or USDOT regulations.
When it comes to transporting fuel in a pickup or trailer, DOT doesn’t allow a gross weight of more than 440 pounds for all containers of gasoline. (Gasoline weights about 6.15 pounds per U.S. gallon.)
That equates to about a dozen 5-gallon gas cans, and all the containers must be marked clearly with “Gasoline” or “Gas.”
If you work in California or other like-minded environmental states where the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) play a heavy policing role there are additional requirements for consumer and homeowner type gas cans that differ from OSHA safety cans and DOT safety cans.