Last updated: 24/09/2013
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Petrol is a highly flammable liquid and gives off
flammable vapour even at very low temperatures. When this vapour is
mixed with air in proportions between 1% and 8% a risk of fire or
explosion exists. Petrol vapour is heavier than air and does not
disperse easily in still conditions. It tends to sink to the lowest
possible level of its surroundings and may accumulate in tanks,
cavities, drains, pits or other depressions.
Flammable atmospheres may also exist where clothing or other
absorbent material or substances are contaminated with petrol.
Petrol vapour can have acute or chronic effects if inhaled and
therefore should be considered in the assessment required under the
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999
The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations
2002 (DSEAR) require employers to control the risks to safety from
fire and explosions.
Current Petroleum Legislation:
- Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928;
- Petroleum Spirit (Motor Vehicles etc) Regulations 1929;
- Petroleum (Mixtures) Order 1929;
- Petroleum (Transfer of Licences) Act 1936;
- Petroleum (Liquid Methane) Order 1957;
- Public Health Act 1961 (Section 73 only);
- Petroleum Spirit (Plastic Containers) Regulations 1982;
- Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Regulations 1996
(Regulation 20 only); and
- Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002
Use the quick links below for further
Part A - Quick Guide to DSEAR
What is DSEAR?
DSEAR stands for the Dangerous Substances and Explosive
Atmospheres Regulations 2002.
Dangerous substances can put peoples' safety at risk from fire
and explosion. DSEAR puts duties on employers and the self-employed
to protect people from risks to their safety from fires, explosions
and similar events in the workplace, this includes members of the
public who may be put at risk by work activity.
What are dangerous substances?
Dangerous substances are any substances used or present at work
that could, if not properly controlled, cause harm to people as a
result of a fire or explosion. They can be found in nearly all
workplaces and include such things as solvents, paints, varnishes,
flammable gases, such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), dusts from
machining and sanding operations and dusts from foodstuffs.
What does DSEAR require?
- find out what dangerous substances are in their workplace and
what the fire and explosion risks are;
- put control measures in place to either remove those risks or,
where this is not possible, control them;
- put controls in place to reduce the effects of any incidents
involving dangerous substances;
- prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents
and emergencies involving dangerous substances;
- make sure employees are properly informed about and trained to
control or deal with the risks from the dangerous substances;
- identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive
atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources (from unprotected
equipment, for example) in those areas.
The petroleum licensing authority is Cornwall Fire and Rescue
Service, who are responsible for ensuring safety at sites where
petrol is delivered, stored and dispensed.
The keeping of petrol must be in accordance with conditions
attached to a licence issued under the Petroleum (Consolidation)
Act 1928. When an Inspector appointed by the licensing authority
visits a petrol filling station the aim is to ensure the
observance, maintenance and, where necessary, the improvement of
Other safety-related legislation is enforced by the local
councils or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), dependent on the
main activity at the premises concerned.
At the time of writing there are proposals being considered for
changes to petrol legislation. These may affect licensing and
health and safety enforcement responsibilities. Contact your
enforcing authority for the current position.
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Part B - Petroleum Licensing - Petrol Filling Stations
The petroleum licensing authority contact address's are:
St. Austell Community Fire Station
Falmouth Community Fire Station
Part C - Licensing Costs
Payment for new or renewal licence applications to be made by
cheque payable to CornwallCouncil.
The costs for licensing are as follows:
Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928 c.32
Licence to Keep Petroleum Spirit of a quantity:
Not exceeding 2,500 litres
- 1 year = £42,
- 2 years = £84,
- 3 years = £126
Exceeding 2,500 litres but not exceeding 50,000 litres
- 1 year = £58,
- 2 years = £116,
- 3 years = £174
Exceeding 50,000 litres
- 1 year = £120,
- 2 years = £240,
- 3 years = £360
Transfer of petroleum spirit licence - £8.
Part D - Petroleum Licence Application Form
You can apply online or download the Petroleum Licence
If you require a form to be sent to you, please
use the contact details at the bottom of this page.
Safety aspects of petroleum delivery, storage and dispensing are
the responsibility of the licensing authority. Council Officers
work to, and are able to give advice on, nationally produced
guidance such as:
HS(G) 146 - Dispensing petrol. Assessing and controlling the
risk of fire and explosion at sites where petrol is stored and
dispensed as a fuel.
Part E - Other Health and Safety Considerations
In addition to the general duties established under the Health
and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (s.2, 3, 4, 7 and 8) the following
legislation may also be of relevance in premises visited by local
authority health and safety inspectors:
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations
1999. (Risk assessment, appointment of competent persons etc)
- COSHH 1999 (assessment and control of risks arising
from substances hazardous to health).
- Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous
Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)(iv) Electricity at Work
Regulations 1989(v) Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations
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Part F - Petrol and COSHH 1999
Aspiration is the entry of liquid into the lungs following
swallowing and subsequent vomiting. Petrol is classified as
'Harmful by ingestion' owing to this aspiration hazard i.e. the
risk of chemical pneumonitis, and not because of its acute toxicity
i.e. poisoning, properties. Petrol is also classified as a skin
irritant, due to its potential to cause dermatitis. The presence of
up to 5% benzene means that petrol is classified as Carcinogenic,
Category 2 (See element on 'Carcinogens' in this manual for further
Under COSHH 1999 a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is
required for all jobs carried out involving petrol. This may
involve emergency procedures (spillages or accidental ingestion),
protective clothing to prevent skin contact and precautions to
control exposure by inhalation.
Part G - Petrol - General Safety
Where petrol might be used (eg. mobile equipment, generators) or
workers exposed to other petrol fire/explosion risks (eg. garage
workshops) an assessment needs to be carried out on the risks
involved to ensure that adequate control measures are taken.
Leaflets giving advice on petrol safety are available, covering
safe storage, carriage and use.
When draining petrol tanks, appropriate advice includes:
- Choose a level, well-ventilated area, preferably out
- Never drain petrol over a pit.
- Keep all sources of ignition well away.
- Use a proper fuel retriever or syphon
- If draining into a container, use a funnel
- Do not attempt hot work on petrol tanks
Part H - Checklist - Petrol and Petrol Filling
- Have you carried out a COSHH assessment regarding
exposure to petrol?
- As a premises storing/dispensing petrol as a fuel do
you comply with the licence issued by your Petroleum Licensing
- For other premises where petrol is used or handled,
have you carried out a risk assessment for the activities
- Have you implemented appropriate measures to control
the fire/explosion risks identified in your risk assessment?
- Have you informed or instructed employees of the
health and safety risks associated with petrol and appropriate
precautions that should be taken?
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Part I - Requirements for the Unloading of Petroleum
Spirit at Petrol Filling Stations and Other Licenced Premises
Must conform to the Carriage of Dangerous goods by Road
Regulations 1996 (Regulation 20) and current Approved Code of
You can view the code of practice from the Office
of Public Sector Infromation website.
Part J - Contact Details
If you are unsure about your responsibilities, have a query or
need any advice about fire safety, please contact us:
Any general enquiries should be directed to: 01726
Or for 24 hour Fire Safety Advice call free on: 0800
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