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5 Ways Operator Intervention Leads to Crisis Prevention at Convenience Stores

Photograph courtesy of Source North America

Fuel site operation is fraught with liability concerns. As the c-store associates most likely to be the first to respond to a critical fuel site situation, B and C operators are instrumental in maintaining the safety of customers, coworkers and their surroundings, as well as preventing avoidable remediation costs.


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Training operators to actively watch for risks and to engage with customers and contractors are two of the best ways to keep unfortunate situations from escalating into serious emergencies or costly missteps. Operators need to have the confidence to act on the saying, “If you see something, say something.”

Here are 5 common occurrences at fuel sites that every retail fuel employee should take seriously:

1. Careless fuel deliveries. Fuel stations are extremely vulnerable to liability issues during fuel drops. Cross-drops, improper (or even absent) vapor recovery procedures and inattentive drivers who walk away from the delivery area or look at their phones during a fuel delivery are a few of the most common offenses. C-store operators can prevent catastrophic spills by going outside to monitor the delivery process, documenting improper procedures (video taken by phone is difficult to dispute) and sharing that feedback with their fuel supplier. They will also be more empowered to obtain a good experience from their supplier in the long run.

2. Slow flow or stopped pumps. When the flow of a dispenser slows significantly or stops altogether it can be a sign of a serious problem in the fueling system, such as high water levels, phase separation, excessive corrosion or microbial contamination. In the instance of a tank gauge-initiated submersible pump shut-down, do not override alarms issued by the tank gauge. Deactivate the dispenser until a professional can evaluate the source and urgency of the problem.

3. Equipment installations. It’s important to oversee the installation of any new equipment to avoid oversights, but it is particularly important with underground equipment. Many c-stores will be replacing their tanks in the next 10 years. Don’t miss the chance to correct an issue before the equipment is buried underground. Make sure contractors are meeting safety and regulatory requirements, industry best practices and manufacturer standards.

4. Credentials validation. If the fueling system requires maintenance, verify that the individual providing the service has the certifications required by the equipment manufacturer to work on the equipment. If the person is not certified to work on the equipment, the equipment’s warranty could be voided or an insurance policy may become invalid.

5. Improper fueling procedures. If workers see a customer dispensing fuel into an unapproved container, or filling a portable container on the bed of a truck, on the floor of a trailer or inside part of the vehicle (such as the trunk), turn that pump off. Instruct the customer about proper containers and fueling procedures. Containers must be placed on the ground to prevent static electricity from creating a spark. Only restart the pump once the customer has acknowledged and corrected their errors.

Source North America regularly includes tips for fuel site operators in its newsletter, SourceLine. Sign up here to receive the newsletter.

This post is sponsored by Source North America

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