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In just about every homeowner’s garage, sitting next to the gas-powered lawn mower is a red plastic gas can with a long spout. This ubiquitous gas cans typically cost about $5 and can be found at most home improvement stores, gas stations, and discount stores.
But should they be used at businesses that use equipment powered by gas engines? The answer is usually “no”.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates workplace safety and typically holds businesses to a higher standard than homeowners.
The OSHA standard regarding the use of gas cans is 29 CFR 1926.152(a)(1), which states: “Only approved containers and portable tanks shall be used for storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. Approved safety cans or Department of Transportation approved containers shall be used for the handling and use of flammable liquids in quantities of 5 gallons or less.”
That’s government speak for, “Don’t use home gas cans at your business.”
Approved Safety Cans
Instead, businesses are supposed to use safety cans, which are a lot more sophisticated than the typical red plastic gas can and contain important safety features.
A safety can that is approved for use in businesses by OSHA is a closed container with a capacity of fewer than five gallons that has a flash arresting screen, a spring closing lid, and a spout cover. Safety cans are specially designed to relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure.
Safety cans for business also need to have the seal of approval from a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriter’s Laboratory. Look for the “UL Listed” stamp on the bottom or sides of the can. If it says “UL Classified”, this is not the same thing and the can is not approved for business use.
Department of Transportation Approved Containers
Notice that the OSHA standard refers to either “approved safety cans of Department of Transporation approved containers”.
Gas cans approved by the DOT will have a sticker or other markings that state that the produce adheres to the federal transportation agency’s stringent requirements. If the safety can or gas can you use has either UL Listed or DOT approved written on them, or both, it’s approved for use in commercial businesses. If it has neither, it should not be used by a business.
Using the right safety can is important for maintaining a safe and responsible work environment. It also can protect your business from prosecution if an accident occurs in your workplace.