An incident at an environmental services company highlights the literally explosive combination of petrol vapour and electrical sparks, and the importance of using suitable Zone 0 hazardous area equipment.

The incident on March 5th 2013 saw a pair of men attempt to use a pressure water gun to clean the inside of a tanker that had been used to transport waste petrol from disused pumps at Manchester’s Plant Hill police station.

When they switched the pressure gun on, petrol vapour from inside the tanker ignited, and the resultant explosion badly burned both men and destroyed the side of a nearby building.

A subsequent HSE prosecution ended in December 2014, with a £25,000 and more than £8,000 in costs charged to the pair’s employers.

HSE inspector David Norton said: “Two men were badly burned, with one suffering horrific, life-changing injuries, because their employer didn’t do enough to make sure they stayed safe.

“The firm now uses a specialist contractor to clean out its tankers to avoid the risk of vapours escaping.

“If this procedure had been in place at the time of the incident then the injuries both men suffered could have been avoided.”

The incident highlights the substantial risks posed in Zone 0 environments, and how hazardous area equipment can potentially prevent life-changing injuries and extensive damage to property.