On occasion unsubstantiated reports emerge of mobile phones causing fires on petrol filling stations and other locations where flammable vapours are present. In fact, when research has been done into whether this has occurred (see the work of the Energy Institute), no evidence linking fires to mobile phone ignition has been found.
Regardless, use of mobile phones on Fuels Industry UK members’ forecourts is actively discouraged for the reasons stated below:
Distraction - Using mobile phones can create a serious distraction for people dispensing fuel or crossing the forecourt due to the number of vehicles moving. Traffic movements will always present a risk for customers and therefore remaining vigilant and minimising distractions is central to forecourt safety. The distraction caused to pedestrians by mobile phones increases the risk of accidents.
Risk of incendive sparking - Mobile phones are not designed and certified for use in explosive atmospheres which exist temporarily around the pump and nozzle during refuelling as well as around the fill and vent pipes during petrol deliveries. Whilst the risk of incendive sparking from mobile phones is low, they are not intrinsically safe devices and should not be used in those hazardous areas (listed below) that exist on a forecourt.
For these reasons, the use of mobiles phones by the public is prohibited in the following particularly sensitive locations:
- In the area of the vehicle filler point when filling a vehicle.
- In the immediate vicinity of a fuel dispenser, except in clearly identified non-hazardous areas specifically intended for portable device use.
- In the immediate vicinity of tank fill points, tank and separator vents.
- In the vicinity of a tanker when unloading.
Generally, there is no need to restrict the use of mobile telephones in other areas of the forecourt, such as in the shop, in parked motor vehicles or in other traffic-free, non-hazardous areas.