Do Your Safety Cans and Handling Procedures Meet OSHA Requirements?

With the amount of small gasoline powered equipment used in golf course maintenance you already know that gasoline is extremely flammable and dangerous, but do you know what all of OSHA’s requirements related to gasoline and safety cans are? And more importantly, are you in compliance with those requirements? 

Being in compliance with all of OSHA’s regulations is essential not only to protect yourself in case of an audit, but also to protect yourself, your club, and your employees.   

OSHA has strict regulations for the handling, storing and use of flammable liquids, and compliance with these regulations begins with the use of approved safety cans. The cans you use should be approved by OSHA.  

Can you use those red plastic $5.00 gas cans on your golf course? If you didn’t guess the answer, the answer is NO! 

OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1926.152(a)(1) states “Only approved containers and portable tanks shall be used for storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids.  Approved safety cans or Department of Transportation approved containers shall be used for the handling and use of flammable liquids in quantities of 5 gallons or less. 

Approved cans have:

  • Capacity of 5 gallons or less
  • Spring-loaded lid
  • Flash arresting screen
  • Spout cover
  • Child resistant cap
  • Designed to reduce pressure within the can
  • Release minimal vapor.
  • Closed and contained

These rules apply to flammable liquids stored in quantities of 1-5 gallons. Liquids under one gallon may be kept in their original containers.  It’s important to note that OSHA approval is not the same as EPA approval or AQMD approval. When selecting a safety can, you need to make sure that it is OSHA approved, none of these other approval marks ensures OSHA approval. Those cheap plastic gas cans may meet EPA guidelines, yet not meet OSHA guidelines. Remember, regulatory agency approvals are not interchangeable. As a general guideline, most Department of Transportation (DOT) approved cans are approved by OSHA. If you will be transporting the liquids by vehicle, the cans must be DOT approved.    

OSHA also has strict regulations that determine where these cans may be stored: 

  • Do not store in exit areas 
  • Do not store in stairways 
  • Do not store in high traffic areas 

When your quantity of gasoline in cans (Class 1 Flammability) exceeds 25 gallons it should be stored in an approved flammable cabinet.  Conversely, no more than 60 gallons of gasoline may be stored inside flammable cabinets. 

Safe handling of safety cans is also very important. Most accidents can be prevented by following a few simple safety rules:  

  • Use only approved containers 
  • Make sure that the cap fits tightly 
  • Do not fill container inside on top, or near a vehicle 
  • Keep containers away from vehicles, people and traffic 
  • Only fill containers on the ground 
  • Only handle fuel in well-ventilated areas 
  • To fill a container, make sure nozzle is in contact with the can 
  • Do not fill container over 95% of capacity 
  • Allow any container spills to evaporate before putting the container in the vehicle 

Refuelling equipment may also pose several safety hazards so make sure you and your employees follow these safety tips: 

  • Never refuel a hot motor 
  • Don’t refuel near open flames 
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby 
  • Avoid fuel spills 
  • Don’t overfill the tank, especially on hot days 

In order to protect your equipment, you should also make sure that everyone is aware of the different types of fuel you use for each piece of equipment. Most of you have had an employee fill up a diesel mower from the gasoline pump or worse yet, have had someone put straight fuel into equipment that needs fuel/oil mix.

Make sure all employees know your system to prevent this.  It varies from course to course but labels, color codes are the most common. These are a few of the most important and relevant safety rules and procedures to follow at your golf operation. Keep in mind that there is a long list of safety regulations that you need to be aware of, and ensuring your compliance with all OSHA, state and local regulations is no simple task. If you’re unsure whether your golf operation’s safety plans and procedures meet all requirements, schedule a call with us below.


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