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Motor Vehicle Fueling and Servicing Operations

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Petroleum-based fuels and lubricants are sold directly to consumers at full-service and self-service (with or without repair bays) service stations, car washes, automotive service centres, motor vehicle agencies, truck stops, repair garages, automotive parts stores and convenience stores. Service station attendants, mechanics and other employees who fuel, lubricate and service motor vehicles should be aware of the physical and chemical hazards of the petroleum fuels, lubricants, additives and waste products they come into contact with and follow appropriate safe work procedures and personal protection measures. The same physical and chemical hazards and exposures are present at commercial facilities, such as those operated by motor truck fleets, automobile rental agencies and bus companies for fuelling and servicing their own vehicles.

Because they are the facilities where motor fuels are delivered direct to the user’s vehicle, service stations, particularly those where drivers fuel their own vehicles, are where employees and the general public are most likely to come into direct contact with hazardous petroleum products. Other than those drivers who change their own oil and lubricate their own vehicles, the likelihood of contact with lubricants or used oil by motorists, except for incidental contact when checking fluid levels, is very small.

Service Station Operations

Fuel island area and dispensing system

Employees should be aware of the potential fire, safety and health hazards of gasoline, kerosene, diesel and other fuels dispensed at service stations. They should also be aware of suitable precautions. These include: safe dispensing of fuels into vehicles and containers, clean-up and disposal of spills, fighting incipient fires and draining fuels safely. Service stations should provide fuel-dispenser pumps which operate only when the fuel-hose nozzles are removed from the dispensers’ brackets and the switches are manually or automatically activated. Fuel-dispensing devices should be mounted on islands or protected against collision damage by barriers or curbs. Dispensing equipment, hoses and nozzles should be inspected regularly for leaks, damage and malfunctions. Safety features may be installed on fuel dispensers such as emergency breakaway devices on hoses, which retain liquid on each side of the break point, and impact valves with fusible links at the base of dispensers, which close automatically in event of severe impact or fire.

Government regulations and company policies may require that signs be posted in dispensing areas similar to the following signs, which are required in the United States:

  • “No Smoking—Shut off engine”
  • “WARNING: It is unlawful and dangerous to dispense gasoline into unapproved containers”
  • “Federal Law prohibits the introduction of any gasoline containing lead or phosphorus into any motor vehicle labelled UNLEADED GASOLINE ONLY”
  • “UNLEADED GASOLINE”, posted at unleaded gasoline dispensers and “CONTAINS LEAD ANTIKNOCK COMPOUNDS”, posted at leaded gasoline dispensers.


Fuelling vehicles

Service station employees should know where the fuel dispenser pump emergency shut-off switches are located and how to activate them, and should be aware of potential hazards and procedures for safely dispensing fuel into vehicles, such as the following:

  • Vehicle engines should be shut off and smoking prohibited while fuelling to reduce the hazards of accidental vehicle movement, spills and fuel vapour ignition.
  • When fuel is dispensed, the nozzle should be inserted into the vehicle’s fill pipe and contact between the nozzle and the fill pipe maintained to provide for an electric bond until the delivery has been completed. Nozzles should not be blocked open with fuel caps or other objects. Where allowed, approved latches should be used to hold open automatic nozzles.
  • Vehicles such as cement mixers and recreation vehicles with auxiliary internal combustion engines should not be fuelled until both the vehicle’s engines and auxiliary engines are shut off. Care should be taken when fuelling recreational or other vehicles equipped with gas-fired stoves, refrigerators and water heaters to ensure that fuel vapours are not ignited by pilot lights. Employees should not fuel trucks while standing on the side rail, truck bed or fuel tank.
  • Fuel tanks on motorcycles, motor bicycles, fork-lift trucks and similar vehicles should not be filled while the engine is running or when anyone is seated on the vehicle. The tanks should be filled at a slow rate to prevent fuel spills that could run onto hot engines and start fires.
  • After fuelling, hose nozzles should be promptly replaced on the dispensers, pumps turned off and caps replaced on fill pipes or containers.


Filling portable fuel containers

Service stations should establish procedures such as the following for safely dispensing fuel into portable containers:

  • Where required by government regulation or company policies, fuel should be dispensed only into approved, properly identified and labelled portable containers, with or without dispensing spouts, nozzles or hoses and equipped with vents and screw tops or self-closing gravity, spring action or combination fusible link covers designed to provide pressure relief.
  • Containers should be placed on the ground and filled slowly to avoid splash filling and overfills and to provide for grounding (earthing). Containers should not be filled while in a vehicle or in the bed of a truck, particularly one with a plastic liner, as proper grounding cannot be achieved. Bonding wires and clamps should be provided and used, or contact should be maintained between dispenser nozzles and containers to provide a bond while filling, and between container spouts or funnels and tanks during refuelling from containers.
  • When pouring fuel from containers which do not have built-in spouts, funnels should be used to minimize spillage and avoid splash filling.
  • Portable containers which contain fuel or vapours should be properly stored in approved storage cabinets or rooms away from sources of heat and ignition.


Storage tanks, fill pipes, fill caps and vents

Service station underground and aboveground storage-tank gauge and fill-caps should be kept closed except when filling and gauging to minimize release of fuel vapours. When tank-gauge openings are located inside buildings, spring-loaded check valves or similar devices should be provided to protect each of the openings against fluid overflow and possible vapour release. Storage-tank vents should be located in accordance with government regulations and company policy. Where venting to open air is permitted, vent-pipe openings from both underground and aboveground storage tanks should be located at a high level so that flammable vapours are directed away from potential sources of ignition and will not enter windows or air intakes or doors or become trapped under eaves or overhangs.

Improper mixing of different products during deliveries may be caused by lack of identification or improper colour coding or markings on storage tanks. Storage-tank covers, fill pipes, caps and fill-box rims or pads should be properly identified as to products and grades so as to reduce the potential of a delivery into the wrong tank. Identification symbols and colour coding should conform to government regulations, company policies or industry standards, such as the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Recommended Practice 1637, Using the API Color Symbol System to Mark Equipment and Vehicles for Product Identification at Service Stations and Distribution Terminals. A chart indicating the symbols or colour codes in use should be available at the service station during deliveries.

Delivery of fuel to service stations

Service stations should establish and implement procedures such as the following, for the safe delivery of fuel into aboveground and underground service station storage tanks:

Prior to delivery

  • Vehicles and other objects should be moved from the area where the delivery tank truck and delivery hoses will be located.
  • Delivery tank trucks should be positioned away from traffic areas, and vehicles should be restricted from driving near the unloading area or over hoses by the use of traffic cones or barriers.
  • Receiving storage tanks should be gauged prior to delivery to determine if there is sufficient capacity, and checked to see if any water is in the tank.
  • Drivers should assure that fuel is delivered into the correct tanks, that gauge caps are replaced before starting delivery and that all tank openings not being used for delivery are covered.
  • Where required by company policies or government regulation, the tank truck vapour recovery system should be connected to the receiving storage tank prior to starting delivery.


During delivery

  • Drivers should monitor the area near the receiving tank’s vents for potential ignition sources and check that the vents operate properly during delivery.
  • Drivers should remain where they can observe the delivery and be able to stop delivery or take other appropriate action in event of an emergency, such as ejection of liquid from vents or if an overfill device or tank vent alarm activates.


After delivery

  • Storage tanks may be gauged after delivery to verify that specific tanks have received the correct products and the proper amount of products as indicated on the delivery ticket or record. Samples may be taken from the tanks after delivery for quality-control purposes.
  • After delivery, spill containment devices should be drained if necessary and the correct fill and gauge caps and storage tank covers replaced on the proper tanks.


Other Service Station Functions

Storage of flammable and combustible liquids

Government regulations and company policies may control the storage, handling and dispensing of flammable and combustible liquids and automotive chemicals such as paints, starter fluids, antifreeze, battery acids, window washer fluids, solvents and lubricants in service stations. Service stations should store aerosols and flammable liquids in closed containers in approved, well-ventilated areas, away from sources of heat or ignition, in appropriate flammable liquid rooms, lockers or cabinets, or in separate, outside buildings.

Electrical safety and lighting

Service station employees should be familiar with electrical safety fundamentals applicable to service stations, such as the following:

  • Lighting and electrical installations, equipment and fixtures of the proper electrical classification should be provided and maintained in accordance with codes and regulations and should not be replaced by equipment of lesser classification.
  • Electric tools, water coolers, ice machines, refrigerators and similar electrical equipment should be properly grounded (earthed). Portable lights should be protected against breakage to minimize the chance that a spark might ignite flammable vapours in case bulbs break.


Adequate illumination should be provided at appropriate locations in service stations to reduce the potential for accidents and injuries. Government regulations, company policies or voluntary standards may be used to determine appropriate illumination levels. See table 1.

Table 1. Illumination levels for service station areas.

Service station area

Suggested foot candles

Active traffic areas


Storage areas and stockrooms


Washrooms and waiting areas


Dispenser islands, work benches and cashier areas


Service, repair, lubrication and washing areas




Source: ANSI 1967.



Service stations should establish and implement lockout/tagout procedures to prevent the release of potentially hazardous energy while performing maintenance, repair and service work on electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic powered tools, equipment, machinery and systems such as lifts, hoists and jacks, lubrication equipment, fuel-dispenser pumps and compressors. Safe work procedures to prevent the accidental start-up of vehicle engines during servicing or repair should include disconnecting the battery or removing the key from the ignition.

Service station fluids

Fluid and coolant levels

Before working under a hood (bonnet), employees should assure that it will stay open by testing the tension or using a rod or brace. Employees should exercise caution when checking vehicle engine fluids to avoid burns from exhaust manifolds and to prevent contact between dipsticks and electrical terminals or wires; care is also necessary when checking transmission fluid levels (since the engine must be running). Employees should follow safe work procedures when opening radiators, such as allowing pressurized radiators to cool and covering radiator caps with a heavy cloth when opening, using PPE and standing with face turned away from radiators so as to not inhale any escaping steam or vapours.

Antifreeze and window washer fluids

Employees servicing vehicles should be aware of the hazards of both glycol and alcohol antifreezes and window washer fluid concentrates and how to safely handle them. This includes precautions such as storing alcohol-based products in tightly closed drums or packaged containers, in separate rooms or lockers, away from all heating equipment, and providing containment to prevent contamination of drains and ground in the event of a spill or leak of glycol-type antifreeze. Antifreeze or washer fluid should be dispensed from upright drums by using tightly connected hand pumps equipped with drip returns, rather than by using faucets or valves on horizontal drums, which may leak or be knocked open or broken off, causing spills. Air pressure should not be used to pump antifreeze or washer fluid concentrates from drums. Empty portable antifreeze and washer fluid concentrate containers should be completely drained prior to disposal, and applicable regulations governing the disposal of glycol antifreeze solutions should be followed.


Service stations should ensure that employees are aware of the characteristics and uses of the different fuels, oils, lubricants, greases, automotive fluids and chemicals available in the facility and their correct selection and application. The proper tools should be used to remove crankcase, transmission and differential drains, test plugs and oil filters so as to not damage vehicles or equipment. Pipe wrenches, extenders and chisels should be used only by employees who know how to safely remove frozen or rusted plugs. Because of the potential hazards involved, high-pressure lubricating equipment should not be started until the nozzles are set firmly against grease fittings. If testing is to be done prior to use, the nozzle should be aimed into an empty drum or similar receptacle, and not into a hand-held rag or cloth.

Lift operations

Employees working in and around vehicle service areas should be aware of unsafe conditions and follow safe work practices such as not standing in front of vehicles while they are being driven into service bays, over lubrification pits or onto lifts, or when vehicles are being lifted.

  • Vehicles should be properly aligned on two-rail, free-wheel or frame-contact lifts, since an off-centre position may cause a vehicle to fall.
  • Lifts should not be raised until occupants have left the vehicles and a check of overhead clearance has been made.
  • Once the vehicle is in position, the emergency stop device should be set so the lift will not fall in the event of a pressure drop. If a lift is in a position where the emergency stop device cannot be engaged, blocks or safety stands should be placed under the lift or vehicle.
  • A hydraulic lift may be equipped with a low-oil control valve, which prevents operation if the oil in the supply tank falls below a minimum level, since the lift can drop accidentally under those conditions.


When wheel-bearing lubrication, brake repair, tyre changing or other services are performed on free-wheel or frame-contact lifts, vehicles should be raised slightly above the floor to allow employees to work from a squatting position, to reduce the possibility of back strain. After vehicles are raised, the wheels should be blocked to prevent rolling, and safety stands should be placed underneath for support in case of jack or lift failure. When removing wheels from vehicles on drive-on lifts, the vehicles should be blocked securely to prevent rolling. If jacks or stands are used to lift and support vehicles, they should be of the proper capacity, placed at appropriate lift points on the vehicles and checked for stability.

Servicing tyres

Employees should be aware of how to safely check pressures and inflate tyres; tyres should be inspected for excessive wear, maximum tyre pressures should not be exceeded, and the worker should stand or kneel to the side and turn the face when inflating tyres. Employees should be aware of hazards and follow safe work practices when servicing wheels with multi-piece and single-piece rims and lock-ring-rim wheels on trucks and trailers. When repairing tyres with flammable or toxic patching compounds or liquids, precautions such as controlling ignition sources, using PPE and providing adequate ventilation, should be observed.

Parts cleaning

Service station employees should be aware of the fire and health hazards of using gasoline or low-flashpoint solvents to clean parts and should follow safe practices such as using approved solvents with a flashpoint above 60ºC. Parts washers should have a protective cover that is kept closed when the washer is not in use; when the washer is open, there should be a hold-open device such as fusible links, which allows the cover to close automatically in case of fire.

Employees should take precautions so that gasoline or other flammable liquids do not contaminate the cleaning solvent and lower its flashpoint to create a fire hazard. Contaminated cleaning solvent should be removed and placed in approved containers for proper disposal or recycling. Employees who clean parts and equipment using cleaning solvents should avoid skin and eye contact and use appropriate PPE. Solvents should not be used for hand-washing and other personal hygiene.

Compressed air

Safe work practices should be established by service stations for the operation of air compressors and the use of compressed air. The air hoses should be used only for inflating tyres and for lubrication, maintenance and auxiliary services. Employees should be aware of the hazards of pressurizing fuel tanks, air horns, water tanks and other non-air pressure containers. Compressed air should not be used for cleaning or to blow residue from vehicle brake systems, since many brake linings, especially on older model vehicles, contain asbestos. Safer methods such as cleaning with vacuums or liquid solutions should be used.

Storage battery service and handling

Service stations should establish procedures to ensure that storage, handling and disposal of batteries and battery electrolyte fluids follow government regulations and company policies. Employees should be aware of the hazards of electrical short circuits when charging, removing, installing or handling batteries; disconnect the ground (negative) cable first before removing batteries; and reconnect the ground (negative) cable last when installing batteries. When removing and replacing batteries, a carrier may be used to facilitate lifting and to avoid touching the battery.

Employees should be aware of safe practices such as the following for handling battery solution:

  • Containers of electrolyte solution should be stored at temperature ranges between 16 and
    32ºC in safe areas where they cannot overturn. Any electrolyte solution spilled on the batteries or in the filling area should be flushed with water. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) may be used on spills, since it is an effective neutralizer for battery electrolyte solution.
  • New batteries should be placed on the floor or work table when being filled with electrolyte solution, and the caps should be replaced prior to installation. New batteries should not be filled when they are inside vehicles.
  • Face shields and chemical goggles, aprons and gloves may be used to minimize exposure to battery solution. Battery solution should be handled and dispensed where a supply of potable water or eye wash fluid is available, in case the battery solution spills or contacts an employee’s skin or eyes. Do not use neutralizing solutions on skin or eyes.
  • When servicing batteries, corrosive particles which accumulate around the terminals should be brushed away, washed with clean water, neutralized with baking soda or other similar agents and prevented from contacting eyes or clothing.


Employees should check fluid levels in batteries prior to charging and periodically check them during charging to determine whether batteries are overheating. Chargers should be turned off before disconnecting cables from batteries, to avoid creating sparks which may ignite hydrogen gas generated during the charge. When “quick charging” batteries are installed in vehicles, the vehicles should be moved away from the fuel-dispensing islands, and the battery ground (negative) cables should be disconnected before connecting the charger units. If the batteries are located within passenger compartments or under vehicle floorboards, they should be removed before charging.

Employees should be familiar with the hazards and safe procedures to “jump start” vehicles that have dead batteries, in order to avoid electrical system damage or injury from exploding batteries if the jumper cables are hooked up incorrectly. Employees should never jump start or charge frozen batteries.

Driving vehicles and towing

Employees should be trained, qualified and have proper motor vehicle operator’s licences to drive customer or company vehicles, service trucks or towing equipment either on or off the premises. All vehicles should be operated in compliance with government regulations and company policies. Operators should check the vehicle’s brakes immediately, and vehicles with faulty brakes should not be driven. Employees operating tow trucks should be familiar with safe operating procedures, such as operating the hoist, checking the transmission and frame of the vehicle to be towed and not exceeding the tow truck’s maximum lifting capacity.

Confined spaces in service stations

Service station employees should be aware of the hazards associated with entry into confined spaces such as aboveground and underground tanks, sumps, pump pits, waste containment tanks, septic tanks and environmental collection wells. Unauthorized entry should not be allowed, and confined-space entry permit procedures should be established that apply to both employee and contractor entrants.

Emergency procedures

Service stations should develop emergency procedures, and employees should know how to sound the alarms, how to notify authorities of emergencies when and how to evacuate and what appropriate response actions should be taken (such as shutting off emergency switches in the event of spills or fires in the dispensing pump areas). Service stations may establish security programmes to familiarize employees with robbery and violence prevention, depending on the service station’s location, hours of operation and potential threats.

Service Station Health and Safety

Fire protection

Gasoline vapours are heavier than air and may travel long distances to reach sources of ignition when released during fuel filling, spills, overflows or repairs. Proper ventilation should be provided in enclosed areas to allow for dissipation of gasoline vapours. Fires may occur from spills and overflows when fuelling or servicing vehicles or delivering product into service station tanks, particularly if smoking is not restricted or if vehicle engines remain running during fuelling. To avoid fires, vehicles should be pushed away from spill areas or the spilled gasoline should be cleaned from under or around vehicles before starting their engines. Vehicles should not be permitted to enter or drive through spills.

Employees should be aware of other causes of fires in service stations, such as improper handling, transfer and storage of flammable and combustible liquids, accidental releases during fuel system repairs, electrostatic discharge when changing filters on gasoline dispensers and the use of improper or unprotected work lights. Draining gasoline from vehicle fuel tanks could be very hazardous due to the potential for release of fuel and vapours, especially in enclosed service areas when sources of ignition may be present.

Hot-work permits should be issued when work other than vehicle repair and servicing is performed which introduces sources of ignition in areas where flammable vapours may be present. Employees should be aware that carburettor priming should not be attempted while vehicle engines are running or being turned over with their starters, since flashbacks could ignite the fuel vapours. Employees should follow safe procedures, such as using starter fluid and not gasoline for priming carburettors and using clamps to hold the chokes open while attempting to start the engine.

Although government regulations or company policies may require the installation of fixed fire-protection systems, fire extinguishers are usually the primary means of fire protection in service stations. Service stations should provide fire extinguishers of the proper classification for the expected hazards. Fire extinguishers and fixed fire protection systems should be regularly inspected, maintained and serviced, and employees should know when, where and how to use the fire extinguishers and how to activate the fixed systems.

Service stations should install fuel-dispenser emergency shut-down controls at clearly identified and accessible locations and ensure that employees know the purpose, location and operation of these controls. To prevent spontaneous combustion, oily rags should be kept in covered metal containers until they are recycled or discarded.


Employee injuries at service stations may result from improper use of tools, equipment and ladders; not wearing PPE; falling or tripping; working in awkward positions; and lifting or carrying cases of materials incorrectly. Injuries and accidents may also occur from not following safe practices when working on hot radiators, transmissions, engines and exhaust systems, servicing tyres and batteries, and working with lifts, jacks, electrical equipment and machinery; from robbery and assault; and from improper use of or exposure to automotive cleaners, solvents and chemicals.

Service stations should develop and implement programmes to prevent accidents and incidents which can be attributed to problems associated with service station physical conditions, such as poor maintenance, storage and housekeeping practices. Other factors contributing toward accidents in service stations include employees’ lack of attention, training or skills, which may result in the improper use of equipment, tools, automotive parts, supplies and maintenance materials. Figure 1 provides a safety checklist.

Figure 1. Service station safety and health checklist.


Robberies are a major safety hazard in service stations. Appropriate precautions and training are discussed in the accompanying box and elsewhere in this Encyclopaedia.


Employees should be aware of health hazards associated with working in service stations, such as the following:

Carbon monoxide. Internal combustion engine exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide, a highly toxic, odourless and colourless gas. Employees should be aware of the dangers of exposure to carbon monoxide, particularly when vehicles are inside service bays, garages or car washes with their engines running. Vehicle exhaust gases should be piped outside through flexible hoses, and ventilation should be provided to assure an adequate supply of fresh air. Fuel oil appliances and heaters should be checked to assure that carbon monoxide is not vented to inside areas.

Toxicity of petroleum fuels. Employees who come in contact with gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil or kerosene should be aware of the potential hazards of exposure and know how to handle these fuels safely. Inhaling sufficient concentrations of petroleum fuel vapours for extended periods of time may result in mild intoxication, anaesthesia or more serious conditions. Short exposure to high concentrations will cause dizziness, headaches and nausea, and irritate the eyes, nose and throat. Gasoline, solvents or fuel oils should never be siphoned from containers or tanks by mouth, since the toxicity of low viscosity liquid hydrocarbons aspired directly into the lungs is 200 times greater than if they are ingested. Aspiration into the lungs may cause pneumonia with extensive pulmonary oedema and haemorrhage, leading to serious injury or death. Vomiting should not be induced. Immediate medical assistance should be sought.

Benzene. Service station employees should be aware of the potential hazards of benzene, which is found in gasoline, and avoid inhaling gasoline vapours. Although gasoline contains benzene, low-level exposure to gasoline vapours is unlikely to cause cancer. Numerous scientific studies have shown that service station employees are not exposed to excessive levels of benzene during the course of their normal work activities; however, there is always the possibility that overexposure could occur.

Dermatitis hazards. Employees who handle and come into contact with petroleum products as part of their jobs should be aware of the hazards of dermatitis and other skin disorders and the personal hygiene and personal protective measures needed to control exposure. If eye contact with gasoline, lubricants or antifreeze occurs, the eyes should be flushed with clean, lukewarm potable water, and medical assistance should be provided.

Lubricants, used motor oil and automotive chemicals. Employees who change oil and other motor vehicle fluids, including antifreeze, should be aware of the hazards and know how to minimize exposure to products such as gasoline in used motor oil, glycol in antifreeze and other contaminants in transmission fluids and gear lubricants by the use of PPE and good hygiene practices. If high-pressure lubricating guns are discharged against an employee’s body, the affected area should be examined immediately to see if petroleum products have penetrated the skin. These injuries cause little pain or bleeding, but involve almost instant separation of the skin tissues and possible deeper damage, which should receive immediate medical attention. The attending physician should be informed of the cause and the product involved in the injury.

Welding. Welding, besides being a fire hazard, can involve exposure to lead pigments from welding on car exteriors, as well as metal fumes and welding gases. Local exhaust ventilation or respiratory protection is needed.

Spray painting and auto body fillers. Spray painting can involve exposure to solvent vapours and pigment particulates (e.g., lead chromate). Auto body fillers often are epoxy or polyester resins and can involve skin and respiratory hazards. Drive-in spray booths for spray painting, local exhaust ventilation and skin and eye protection are recommended while using auto body fillers.

Storage batteries. Batteries contain corrosive electrolyte solutions of sulphuric acid that can cause burns and other injuries to the eyes or skin. Exposure to battery solution should be minimized by the use of PPE, including rubber gloves and eye protection. Employees should immediately flush electrolyte solution from the eyes or skin with clean potable water or eye wash fluid for at least 15 minutes and seek immediate medical attention. Employees should thoroughly wash their hands after servicing batteries and keep their hands away from the face and eyes. Employees should be aware that overcharging batteries can create explosive and toxic quantities of hydrogen gas. Because of the potential harmful effects of exposure to lead, used storage batteries should be properly disposed of or recycled in accordance with government regulations or company policies.

Asbestos. Employees who check and service brakes should be aware of the hazards of asbestos, know how to recognize whether brake shoes contain asbestos and take appropriate protective measures to reduce exposure and contain waste for proper disposal (see figure 2).

Figure 2. Portable enclosure for preventing exposure to asbestos dust from brake drums It is equipped with an enclosed compressed-air gun with a cotton sleeve and is connected to a HEPA vacuum cleaner.


Courtesy of Nilfisk of America, Inc.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Injuries to employees may occur from contact with automotive fuels, solvents and chemicals or from chemical burns caused by exposure to battery acids or caustic solutions. Service station employees should be familiar with the need to use and wear PPE such as the following:

  • Work shoes with oil- and slip-resistant soles should be worn for general work in service stations, and approved protective-toe safety shoes with oil/slip-resistant soles should be worn where there is a danger of foot injuries due to rolling or falling objects or equipment.
  • Safety goggles and respiratory protection should be used for protection against exposures to chemicals, dust or steam, such as when painting or working around batteries and radiators. Industrial safety glasses or face shields with goggles should be worn when the potential exists for exposure to impact materials, such as working with grinders or wire buffers, repairing or mounting tyres, or replacing exhaust systems. Welding glasses should be worn when cutting or welding to prevent flash burns and injuries from particles.
  • Impervious gloves, aprons, footwear, face shields and chemical goggles should be worn when handling automotive chemicals and solvents, battery acid and caustic solutions and when cleaning up chemical or fuel spills. Leather work gloves should be worn when handling sharp objects such as broken glass, motor vehicle parts or tyre rims and while emptying trash cans.
  • Head protection may be needed when working beneath vehicles in pits or changing overhead signage or lights and in other areas where a potential exists for injury to the head.
  • Employees working on vehicles should not wear rings, wristwatches, bracelets or long chains, since the jewellery may contact the vehicle’s moving parts or electrical system and cause injury.


To prevent fires, dermatitis or chemical burns to the skin, clothing that is soaked with gasoline, antifreeze or oil should be immediately removed in an area or room with good ventilation and where no sources of ignition, such as electric heaters, engines, cigarettes, lighters or electric hand dryers, are present. The affected areas of the skin should then be thoroughly washed with soap and warm water to remove all traces of contamination. Clothing should be air dried outside or in well-ventilated areas away from sources of ignition before laundering to minimize contamination of wastewater systems.

Service Station Environmental Issues

Storage tank inventory control

Service stations should maintain and reconcile accurate inventory records on all gasoline and fuel oil storage tanks on a regular basis to control losses. Manual stick gauging may be used to provide a check of the integrity of underground storage tanks and connecting pipes. Where automatic gauging or leak detection equipment is installed, its accuracy should be verified regularly by manual stick gauging. Any storage tank or system suspected of leaking should be investigated, and if leakage is detected, the tank should be made safe or emptied and repaired, removed or replaced. Service station employees should be aware that leaking gasoline can travel long distances underground, contaminate water supplies, enter sewer and drainage systems and cause fires and explosions.

Handling and disposal of waste materials

Waste lubricants and automotive chemicals, used motor oil and solvents, spilled gasoline and fuel oil and glycol-type antifreeze solutions should be drained into approved, properly labelled tanks or containers and stored until disposed of or recycled in accordance with government regulations and company policies.

Because engines with worn cylinders or other defects may allow small amounts of gasoline to enter their crankcases, precautions are needed to prevent vapours which could be released from tanks and containers with crankcase drainings from reaching sources of ignition.

Used oil filters and transmission fluid filters should be drained of oil prior to disposal. Used fuel filters which have been removed from vehicles or fuel dispenser pumps should be drained into approved containers and stored in well-ventilated locations away from sources of ignition until dry before disposal.

Used battery-electrolyte containers should be thoroughly rinsed with water before discarding or recycling. Used batteries contain lead and should be properly disposed of or recycled.

Cleaning large spills may require special training and PPE. Recovered spilled fuel may be returned to the terminal or bulk plant or otherwise disposed of according to government regulations or company policy. Lubricants, used oil, grease, antifreeze, spilled fuel and other materials should not be swept, washed or flushed into floor drains, sinks, toilets, sewers, sumps or other drains or the street. Accumulated grease and oil should be removed from floor drains and sumps to prevent these materials from flowing into sewers. Asbestos dust and used asbestos brake linings should be handled and disposed of according to government regulations and company policies. Employees should be aware of the environmental impact and potential health, safety and fire hazards of these wastes.



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