How To Stop Static Electricity | The Dangers Of Static Electricity And Fueling Operations
Some workers may not be aware of this, but static electricity can become a huge threat in the workplace, especially when working on or around fueling operations. If there is a discharge of static electricity while fuel is being dispensed, there is a possibility of an explosion or fire erupting. Because of this threat, it is extremely important to know how to identify situations and conditions that could be hazardous when dealing with static electricity and fueling operations. You will need to know exactly how to stop static electricity from becoming any type of a factor when fueling. Your life depends on it.
Most research regarding bonding focuses on dispensing fuel from Marine Service Stations. All non-current-carrying metal parts must have the same chance to ground, so it is important that all tanks, valves, piping, and dispensing equipment are bonded continuously. Fuel passing through a hose creates static electricity, so this becomes especially important at the dispensing hose and nozzle. This risk becomes even greater when you are removing the hose nozzle from the tank that is being filled up.
Any and all dispensing equipment must be Underwriters Laboratories listed (UL). This includes hoses, nozzles, and pumps. The UL listing signifies that the hose and nozzle are equipped to provide a continuous bond from shore side equipment to the tank that will be filled up. This allows any static electricity to flow into the ground. If you do not bond the hose and nozzle to the shore side equipment, the static electricity will disperse slowly and a spark will probably occur when you remove the nozzle from the fuel tank. This becomes dangerous for obvious reasons.
To keep it simple, all equipment must be bonded! If you cannot use UL listed equipment, attaching a bonding wire from shore side piping to the nozzle and tank should work as an alternative.
If you are pumping fuel from a truck, conditions change so the process is a little different. Pumping from a truck will require you to attach a bonding wire anytime flammable liquids are being deposited into a top fill tank. As you may have already figured out, trucks have tires so they are insulated from the ground with rubber, so you will be creating a path from the tank to the ground by attaching a bonding wire to the tank. However, you must keep in mind that static electricity can take different amounts of time to disperse. Don’t remove the bonding wire before you are sure all static electricity has dissipated! If you don’t, you could create a spark that could have deadly consequences. This is why it is required by OSHA that you also ground the truck along with grounding the tank. Grounding trucks is also recommended by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). You can also allow a few minutes to pass once the pumping is finished to remove the nozzles. This will help ensure that the static electricity has completely dispersed.
Like a lot of safety precautions in the workplace, most workers are aware of these rules and regulations when it comes to static electricity and fueling operations, but they still do not always follow these requirements. Sometimes, even codes do not require bonding. For instance, diesel fuel is a combustible liquid, but since the flash point is above 100 degrees, many site safety codes do not have bonding requirements. However, bonding and grounding would be required if that same diesel fuel is pumped into a container that previouslt held a higher grade product.
Workers, managers, and supervisors alike need to be aware of the different situations presented by fueling operations and know how to stop static electricity from affecting the process. If they do not, an explosion could be triggered that could have deadly consequences.