How often do you gas up your car? Many Americans do so fairly frequently due to their reliance on the automobile. What few think about, though, is how the fuel we rely on gets to a gas or pumping station in the first place.
It’s thanks to the popularity of the car that entire professions for fuel distributors and lubricant distributors exist. However, the transportation and distribution of fuel and lubricants certainly features its own challenges.
What sorts of challenges? Mostly to do with the health and safety of employees, as well as balancing a solid business model with the required federal regulations for health and safety. It sounds simple, but given that distribution leaves very little room for error, when handled poorly those tasks can lead to disaster. Consider, for example, just three of the pressures that fuel distributors potentially have to deal with on the job:
- Fuel distributors often need to assist their clients with project consumption pattern estimations. This means that fuel distributors can suddenly find themselves under lots of pressure if they underestimate how much fuel they need to distribute to one station or another. That pressure can potentially result in spills or mistakes made during a distributor’s efforts to keep their clients’ fleets fully fueled and stocked.
- Fuel distributors – who are in charge of the transportation of fuel and similar materials – can come under scrutiny for their safety practices by anyone, including potential clients. That’s because most companies looking for a fuel distributor will take the time to analyze that distributor’s internal safety procedures, resources and training, to see if they are at least equal to the company’s own standards. So if things aren’t considered good enough, that results in less business for a fuel distributor.
- In addition to coming under scrutiny by companies for performance, fuel distributors can also come under the fire of federal agencies in some situations. Typically, this happens if a fuel distributor is deemed unprepared for a major emergency. As noted by Jeff KenKnight, manager of EPA Region 10 wastewater permits compliance unit: “Companies that store large amounts of fuel must be prepared to prevent and respond to fuel spills to protect people’s health and the environment. Companies must have comprehensive oil spill prevention and response plans in place and available to facility staff so they will be prepared if a spill occurs.”
Fortunately, major mistakes can easily be avoided by fuel distributors – and best of all, the better prepared they are, the more business they’re likely to have, keep and even gain.
Looking forward through the remainder of this new year, we strongly encourage all fuel distributors to take the time to evaluate their safety procedures and spill prevention and emergency plans. All of the information needed to get started with the process is easily accessible here and throughout OSHA’s website. With a little work, we can all make 2014 a safer, healthier, and cleaner year for us all!