The NSW Fuel Retail Safety Forum for 2021 met this week, hearing from regulators across safety, compliance, environment and dangerous goods. The Forum brought together retailers, along with design consultants and network safety and compliance experts, to review startling incidents and understand the focus of the regulators for the coming year. With two presentations from SafeWork NSW, a presentation from the EPA NSW, input from Fire and Rescue NSW and other regulators, and a presentation from ACAPMA the Forum offered an opportunity for retailers to understand what the areas of focus for the regulators are, and to explore opportunities to share learning across the industry from some recent spectacular safety and compliance failures. The Forum presentations and leanings are detailed below for all retail fuel operators.

Presentation Recap: SafeWork NSW – First Aid in Service Stations

SafeWork NSW presented on the importance of understanding and applying a risk identification and management approach to first aid provision in a fuel retail environment. The message was clear and simple…

It is imperative for all sites to review their unique risks, and to ensure that staff have access to first aid equipment, and specific instructions and empowerment to access first aid treatment for themselves or customers when working alone

It is not a requirement for every staff member in a typical (one person working at time) service station, but it is a requirement that the specific risks be discussed and addressed, and that action be taken to mitigate the risks (like reducing the handling of sharps when working along (line in food preparation) or the accessing of a forecourt at night, alongside clear empowerment and the provision of appropriate equipment.

“We heard clearly from SafeWork NSW that the provision of the right equipment is a big thing…if the site is operating deep fryers, for example, then a grocery store first aid kit may not be appropriate, without the addition of one or two burn modules” explained Elisha Radwanowksi, Executive Manager for ACAPMA

ACAPMA is developing an Industry Safety Guide on First Aid in Service Stations which will be circulated to the Forum for comment before being published in the coming weeks.

Presentation Recap: EPA NSW – Dangerous Goods Update

The EPA NSW provided further insight into the transition to Council enforcement and the process and changes made to the statutory guideline that came into effect in December 2020 (see; https://acapmag.com.au/2021/01/nsw-epa-releases-new-guidelines-for-upss/ for more information)

The areas highlighted by the presentation were; the need for all operators to ensure their Fuel System Operation Plans are complete, and the need for groundwater monitoring wells (minimum of 3) to be in place unless the site has a written assessment from a Duly Qualified Person that an alternative system that has at least the same level of protection as groundwater monitoring wells and monitoring, is in place.

“What a ‘Duly Qualified Person’ is is something that needs to be understood, and understood in context” explains Elisha.

“Many regulations call for a Duly Qualified Person, particularly in fuel, to either design, install, maintain, assess or sign off on fuel systems and modification. What is not immediately apparent to most people is that there is not a simple system to identify who is Duly Qualified. For example; any person with a functioning sense of smell and working eyes and a simple understanding of what petroleum products look like on water and smell like, is ‘Duly Qualified’ to perform an ‘observation test’of a groundwater monitoring well – to look to see if there is the sheen of petroleum and to smell to see if there is the smell of petroleum. But that does not mean that that person would be considered ‘Duly Qualified’ to design a fuel storage system, or maintain it, or decommission it” continued Elisha.

“What we clearly heard from the EPA NSW is some practical guidance on what they would expect a site considers before the site makes the decision on whether or not to use a particular person or company to install, maintain or decommission their fuel system including; previous experience, client references, reputable presentation and reputation, presentation of detailed scope, plan and safety documents etc” Elisha said.

“EPA NSW acknowledged that the difficulty at a site level of identifying if a person is ‘Duly Qualified’ to undertake a particular activity is likely to be alleviated with the recent release of nationally recognised skill sets for the design, install, maintenance and decommissioning of fuel systems” concluded Elisha.

For more on the skill sets see; https://acapmag.com.au/2020/02/national-petroleum-contractor-skill-standards-have-your-say/ and keep an eye on ACAPMAg for the latest in the long process of bringing structure to this part of the industry.

More UPSS Information and Resources:

Presentation Recap: SafeWork NSW – General Service Station Update

The General Update from SafeWork NSW covered a series of concerns and incidents in an open and frank manner, with the goal of communicating the learnings from incidents and driving proactive safety focus at a site level.

“One of the most shocking incidents to me was the customer who passed the LPG Autogas nozzle through a hole in his transit van to another man who attached the nozzle to an adapter (which is very dangerous and illegal) in order to fill up the 6 large (45kg/110lt water/83lt gas) portable gas cylinders strapped to the inside of a van. It is amazing that no-one died in this incident. It is simply unsafe to fill portable cylinders from an LPG Autogas nozzle, which has a higher flow rate. It is simply unsafe to decant into portable cylinders in an enclosed space like a van. It is unsafe to transport that many large portable cylinders in a vehicle without a placard. There were so many ways this could have ended in disaster” explains Elisha.

“What is really disappointing about this case, and what all operators can learn from, is that the sheer number of liters that went into that van, the time it took to fill (using an adapter this took a very, very long time) and the behavior of the customer outside of the van, all should have been massive red flags to the console operator. A van that size, if running on LPG Autogas, would have taken at least 6 times less than that single transaction, so the console operator should have known something was amiss” commented Elisha.

“All retailers can take home from this that it is important that staff have an understanding of what a standard sized fill looks like, and are empowered to shut the pumps down and ask questions when there is something strange happening” concluded Elisha.

The theme of maximium quantities was echoed in another case, where a customer filled an IBC (a large plastic cube in a metal cage) on the back of a trailer truck, with petrol. This fill breached the portable container requriements and the maximium fill requriements and could easily have resulted in catestropgic outcomes.

“When dispensing petrol it must go directly into the vehicle or into a portable container that is grounded and is not bigger than 25 litres. In this case a large cube on the back of the trailer, while too big to move by hand, is still a portable container and not part of the vehicle fulling system. The customer stood on the back of the trailer with the nozzle and dispensed over 1,000 litres of fuel into the IBC. With no earthing strap, or spear the buildup of static as the fuel dispensed into the IBC posed a massive fire risk, particularly as the customer stepped down from the trailer after filling” outlined Elisha.

“Again in this case it is important to learn. The console operator should have shut the fill down because the customer was not standing on the ground. It should have ended there. But a look at the product being dispensed, the lack of grounding or earthing of the container and the sheer quantity should have been massive red flags. Sadly instead the customer was gifted a chocolate bar for being such a big sale” continued Elisha.

“The takehome for all retail sties to remind their staff is this: if it is petrol it is in a vehicle, or it is in a portable container, on the ground and it is NEVER more than 25 liters” concluded Elisha.

Following the incident review SafeWork NSW outlined that site visits from the regulator will continue to focus on ensuring that paperwork matches reality.

“What we heard from SafeWork NSW on their compliance visits was clear; there has been a number of sites who have Emergency Response Plans that are not adequately embedded in the business. A document on the shelf is not good enough, staff need to know that it is there, they need to know what is in it, they need to know what to do in the event of an emergency” explained Elisha.

“All sites should ensure that they are regularly reviewing their Emergency Response Plan and training staff in it” outlined Elisha.

“There is a legislative requirement to practice emergency response, based on the likelihood of it occurring…so it may not be necessary to practice flood response if the site is on the top of a mountain, but it is necessary to practice response to armed robbery, leaks, fire, medical emergencies etc” concluded Elisha.

ACAPMA is developing an Industry Safety Guide on Emergency Response Planning that will include detailed Toolbox Talk Refreshers, Emergency Drills and record keeping tips.

Presentation Recap: ACAPMA

ACAPMA presented to the group on the roll out of the Continual Professional Development program for fuel industry contractors the ACAPMA Duly Qualified Person program at an individual level, and how it can add to the confidence of site operators in selecting contractors to undertake works onsite as well as the operation of the National Petroleum Contractor Recognition Scheme (NPCRS) at a business level.

See; https://acapma.com.au/contractors/ and for more on https://acapmag.com.au/2021/02/acapmas-duly-qualified-person-program/ the ACAPMA Duly Qualified Person program and the ACAPMA NPCRS

ACAPMA also presented on the ACAPMA Industry Safety Guides for Fuel Retail, with the Forum proposing areas for Guide development, and ACAPMA outlining the consultation process.

Forum Wrap

“Forums like this are a great opportunity for regulators and operators to come together to openly discuss and understand incidents and concerns, and hopefully address them before anyone gets hurt or any business gets shut down. ACAPMA is happy to have facilitated this meeting and will be circulating incident review, learnings and resources to attendees on a periodic basis until the next Forum” closed Elisha.

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM &IR)
Executive Manager Employment and Training
ACAPMA