Safety Vault Information Service

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Fires spontaneously ignited when workers or others attempted to fill portable gasoline containers (gas cans) in the backs of pickup trucks equipped with plastic bed liners or in cars with carpeted surfaces have caused serious skin burns and other injuries, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These fires result from the buildup of static electricity. The insulating effect of the bed liner or carpet prevents the static charge generated by gasoline flowing into the container or other sources from grounding. The discharge of this buildup to the grounded gasoline dispenser nozzle may cause a spark and ignite the gasoline.

Both ungrounded metal (most hazardous) and plastic gas containers have been involved in these incidents. Construction workers and others in small businesses who often work with gasoline-powered equipment commonly use portable gasoline containers. Homeowners use gasoline cans for their lawnmowers and other equipment. To prevent this type of incident:

-- from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation Industry Information,, 2003