Safety Moment #2: Common Process Hazards — Static Electricity

Static as a source of ignition

The material shown here has been extracted from the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments and in the book Plant Design and Operations.
 


Contents

  • Introduction
  • Gas Tank Fire
  • Static as a Source of Ignition
  • Fail Safe Equipment
  • Emergency Response
  • Further Information

Introduction

Static electricity is a common cause of ignition in industrial facilities, particularly when loading and unloading tank cars and trucks with non-conductive liquids.

Gas Tank Fire

The dangers of static electricity are illustrated in this video oin which the gas tank of a car caught fire. (The fire ignites at 0:59.)

The lady got in and out of her car a number of times. In doing so, she created a static charge on her clothing. She then touched the handle of the gasoline hose. A spark was generated and the vapors around the nozzle were ignited.

There are at least three lessons that can be taken away from this event — one of them is to do with unsafe behavior, but the other two are more positive.

Static as a Source of Ignition

The immediate lesson is obvious: the lady filling her car should not have moved around while filling the vehicle’s fuel tank. In particular she should not have made contact with non-conductive surfaces such as her car seat. Static electricity is a common cause of ignition in industrial facilities, particularly when loading and unloading tank cars and trucks with non-conductive liquids. It is essential that all equipment be properly grounded.

Some fueling stations provide a static discharge feature, as shown.

Gas station fire caused by static electricity

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You are welcome to use this Safety Moment in your workplace. But there are restrictions — please read Use of Safety Moments.

Copyright © Ian Sutton. 2018. All Rights Reserved.