Tag Archive for: Refuelling

Bunkering (refuelling) operations present a high-risk factor especially when refuelling petrol powered vessels. An explosion after refuelling an outboard powered charter vessel resulted in the Master suffering serious burns.


While petrol is highlighted diesel does not have the same flash point, but it is still a flammable liquid with the potential to cause serious injuries and damage to vessels.

Let’s look at some of the risk factors for petrol fuelled vessels.

Petrol vapours are denser than air so any vapours can accumulate in your bilge or other areas which are not properly vented. When petrol vapours mix with air the mixture becomes explosive.

Exposure of accumulated petrol vapours to an ignition source has the potential to cause an explosion and/or fire. The result is potentially catastrophic with serious injury to loss of life, damage to or loss of vessel, damage to infrastructure and environmental damage.

Potential ignition sources include:

  • Smoking, naked flames or pilot lights
  • Communication equipment, e.g., mobile phones
  • Portable electrical equipment
  • Fixed electrical systems
  • Hot work which includes welding, cutting, grinding, etc.
  • Hot surfaces, e.g., exhaust pipes, flues and ducting
  • Sparks generated by mechanical means, e.g., hammers, etc.
  • Static electricity 

To reduce the risk of explosion:

  • Ensure the fuel system complies with the applicable standards
  • Undertake regular inspections of the fuel system
  • Prevent the build-up of vapours by ventilating any area where they could occur
  • Removing or isolating all ignition sources
  • Ensure all electric equipment maintained

A guide to refuelling

In Australia all bunkering/refuelling operations must be carried out in accordance with AS1940:2017.

Below is a basic guide to preparing for refuelling your vessel.

  • Shut down the main engine/s
  • Ensure firefighting equipment is at hand
  • Ensure spill kit is available
  • Ensure adequate lighting is available
  • Block scuppers/freeing ports
  • Close hatches and doors (especially on petrol powered vessels)
  • Ensure all hot works have ceased on the vessel, adjacent vessels and within 20mtrs
  • Ensure all electric appliances are off within 20mtrs
  • Turn off mobile phones
  • Ensure no smoking withing 10mtrs 
  • Estimate the amount of fuel required
  • Ensure the fuel about to be delivered is diesel or unleaded as required
  • Check hose for leaks or damage
  • Where camlocks are not used ensure contact is maintained between the nozzle and the filler pipe; and
  • At all times the nozzle must be hand operated. 

The above is a list of precautionary steps to ensure safe refuelling practices but there are other items that must be considered including where the refuelling is being undertaken, is it at a:

  • Shore-based facility (marina, etc.)
  • Road fuel tanker
  • Fuel barge or mother ship
  • Roadside fuel service station
  • Or are you using Jerri Cans

The results of not following procedures

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Number one recommendation is to ensure you undertake safe refuelling practices at all times in accordance with AS1940:2017.

No matter where you refuel you must comply with the supplier’s procedure for dispensing fuel no matter if it’s a marina, other shore-based facility, road tanker, fuel barge or mothership!


Best tip is to recognise the refuelling procedure is a critical component of every vessels SMS so take the time to get it right. If you’re having problems with putting a refuelling procedure together don’t hesitate to contact us for advice or help to develop your procedure.

It appears not too many people are taking notice of the dangers associated with refuelling petrol engines!

WorkSafe recently issued a safety alert highlighting the increased risk of fires during refuelling of petrol-powered equipment.

The alert was issued following an incident in which a worker received burns to their body while refuelling a petrol-powered high-pressure washer.

The incident occurred while the petrol-powered pressure washer was still hot from use, and the investigation found a number of contributing factors, including:

  • Refuelling while the high-pressure washer engine was still hot from use.
  • The design of the pressure washer where the fuel tank was located directly over the top of the pressure washer engine.
  • The pressure washer engine is fuelled by petrol, which is a flammable liquid.
  • Vapours and fuel spills are easily ignited.
  • The pressure washer was mounted on the tray of a tray back vehicle, requiring workers to stand on top of the vehicle tray for refuelling tasks.

Depending on the positioning of the equipment, the working space may be limited; this may also have affected safe access / egress to the pressure washer.

While this incident involved a pressure washer it could well have been an outboard motor, hookah unit, lifting equipment or any other petrol-powered equipment.


The consequences if a petrol fuelled fire occurs onboard a vessel can be catastrophic resulting in serious injury and loss of the vessel.

At all times ensure you undertake safe refuelling practices.

Refer to AS1940:2017 The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Shorlink’s recommendations to keep you safe when refuelling petrol-powered engines include:

  • Undertake a risk assessment to ensure control measures are in place to eliminate ignition hazards when refuelling.
  • Ensure workers are aware of fire risks during refuelling petrol-powered equipment and understand the control measures implemented to prevent the risk of fire.
  • Consider the use of funnels to reduce the risk of spillage.
  • Ensure all equipment is switched off allowing the engine to cool down prior refuelling.
  • Refuel away from heat and possible ignition sources; including hot parts, vapours or flames.
  • Refuel in well-ventilated areas.
  • Ensure appropriate fire extinguishers are readily accessible; dry powder extinguishers are suitable for petrol fires.
  • Consider the positioning of equipment for safe access when setting up vehicles.
  • Ensure workers refuelling equipment are trained and competent to perform the task.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety boots, non-flammable long pants and long sleeve shirts, eye or face protection, and gloves.


Here’s a few tips to consider when using petrol-powered equipment:

  • Use a funnel to reduce the risk of fuel spillage.
  • Consider the use of a removable/portable fuel tank; but
  • Always consult with the manufacturer if you are considering redesigning the setup of the equipment.
  • Refuel using appropriate fuel containers.