On site, plant and machinery are used as equipment and tools used for construction works. Fuels like petrol and diesel used to fuel site plant and machinery are dangerous substances. How these fuels are used, stored and handled can be strongly influenced by regulations enforced by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive).
The use of fuels in order to power site plant and machinery, means that there are going to be emissions from said usage.
The majority of plant and machinery is likely to be diesel fuelled. Guidance from the HSE is provided for the control of Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions or DEEES. “Unless otherwise stated, the methods for controlling DEEEs also apply to emissions from petrol engines.” (HSE, Control of diesel engine exhaust emissions in the workplace, 2012, Pg. 4). Companies are required to prevent the exposure of any persons in the work area to substances hazardous to health, such as emissions from fuelled plant and machinery. For example, it may affect the way operations throughout the project on site are carried out so as to reduce or eliminate emissions from the use of fuel. This could also mean companies are influenced to substitute diesel fuel with a safer fuel; such as compressed natural gas. They may even be encouraged to look at using alternative plant/machinery that is battery powered. In some cases, the layout of the site or work area may need to be modified if possible, in order to reduce the distance fuelled plant and machinery is required to travel in order to reduce the emissions. In terms of using fuel on site, procedures for safe delivery of fuels and containers on site should be set in place to adhere to The Environmental agency guidance on the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999. It is stated fuel deliveries should always be supervised and drums and cans containing fuel should be put into the secure oil storage area immediately after delivery and as soon as they have been used on site. Never leave fuel containers in unsecured or high risk locations such as high traffic flow locations. When refilling plant and machinery it is advisable to do it in the open air, to avoid inhalation of fumes, on hard standing to avoid spills seeping into the ground and leaking to surface water drains, and also away from any sources of ignition, to avoid fire and explosions. If fuel leaks or spills, it is important to contain and clear up spills. Use absorbent granules and scoop them into a lidded bin kept in a secure place outside.
How fuels are stored is covered by legislation mainly because of the risk of a fire and/or an explosion, particularly with petrol as diesel is less flammable. The HSE states under its Fire and explosion section “there is always a risk of a fire and/or an explosion if there is a source of ignition nearby, for example a naked flame, an electrical spark or similar. Because of these risks storing petrol safely is covered by legislation”. Fuels must be kept in tanks, drums or containers that are in good condition with no damage or corrosion. Also they are required to be clearly labelled with the fuels name, and appropriate hazard symbols; such as the flame symbol to represent ‘flammable’ as pictured to the right. These containers should be securely closed locked so it is only accessible to authorised persons in a well ventilated or outdoor area away from any sources of ignition.
When not handled safely and correctly, fuels can have the potential to be very dangerous. If the fuel comes into contact with the skin it can lead to dermatitis, this could include: soreness, rashes, itching or blistering. “Petrol and diesel contain substances that may cause cancer. The vapours should not be breathed in, and the liquids should be kept off the skin.” (SR16 COSHH essentials, HSE, 2006). Because of this, adequate controls should be set in place; such as keeping the site well ventilated if it is not an outdoor site and enforcing the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE items that would help control exposure and protect workers’ health include overalls (or other work clothing) as well as protective gloves. Using PPE items like these should stop skin from coming into contact with the fuels, however, skin creams are also important for skin protection and to help remove any contamination from the skin. Workers may also require respiratory protective equipment if the ventilation and extraction is inadequate.
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