Diesel fuel is commonly used in construction machinery, industrial machinery and generators.
There are three primary concerns associated with diesel fuel:
1. Flammability: DO NOT SMOKE AROUND DIESEL FUEL!
Diesel fuel is not nearly as flammable as gasoline or other common fuels (such as ethanol and propane) but it can catch fire and it can be difficult to extinguish.
2. Skin exposure:
Diesel fuel can be absorbed through skin very easily. It can cause skin irritation, redness ad even burns. If the fuel is not cleaned off, it will absorb into skin and cause symptoms identical to inhalation.
If diesel vapors are inhaled it can cause dizziness nausea and increased blood pressure, among other symptoms.
What can you do to limit the harmful effects of diesel fuel?
- When fuelling diesel powered vehicles or machinery, do so in a well-ventilated area.
- If vehicles must be used indoors or in enclosed spaces, extra ventilation should be provided to remove diesel exhaust fumes.
- Wear gloves when working with diesel! Viton gloves have shown to be most effective in protecting against diesel exposure.
- Do not use vinyl or butyl rubber gloves with diesels, as they offer no protection.
Questions to Generate Discussion:
- Diesel fuel is not as flammable as other fuels. Why should it be treated with the same caution as highly flammable materials?
- Why should we make efforts to try and protect our skin when working with diesel fuel?
- What areas of this workplace represent the greatest concern in terms of potential exposure to diesel exhaust fumes?
- What can you do to help minimise diesel exposure in the workplace?