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Guide to Refuelling a Forklift Safely

Refuelling may be seen as a simple task, but if not done properly has life threatening consequences. When you are in a rush to get forklifts refuelled and back on the job, safety may not be the number one priority on your mind even though it should be.

Pre-Refuelling Safety
Before refuelling any forklift, the operator should observe and carry out the following safety precautions:

Never refuel while the engine is running (the engine has the potential to ignite the fuel)
Ensure you are following safe parking procedures
Open flame, smoke and any potential source of ignition are prohibited within 10 meters of any truck being refuelled or recharged

1. Liquid Propane Gas (LPG)
Cylinders permanently mounted on trucks should be fitted or exchanged only at locations designated for that purpose (well ventilated and isolated from all sources of ignition)
Only trained and authorised personnel can recharge or exchange LP gas cylinders
Ensure that the engine has stopped and the fuel-isolating valve is shut off before attempting to disconnect the cylinder
Handle all cylinders and associated plumbing with extreme care. Damage from dropping or abuse could result in a serious fire
Ensure that the cylinder is correctly positioned, so that the safety relief valve is facing upwards
Chains should not be used to replace straps in the cylinder-clamping device
It is advised that leather gloves be worn when changing cylinders to prevent potential injury
Flexible hoses on LPG trucks should not protrude beyond the extremities of the truck and are to be protected from abrasion or sharp edges
If the fuel system has a leak, report it immediately. Action should be taken to prevent the truck from being used until the leak has been corrected
Note: LPG trucks should not be refuelled or parked in close proximity to open pits, as there could be a ‘build up’ of vapours in these confined areas.

2. Diesel or Petrol refuelling
Smoking, naked lights or other sources of ignition are prohibited in the designated refuelling area
Care should be exercised to avoid spilling petrol or overflowing the tank during refuelling. Replace the cap securely, flush down any spilled fuel and allow sufficient time for that fuel to completely evaporate, before restarting the truck.

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