In the past, there had been widespread but unsubstantiated reports circulating globally of mobile phones igniting petrol vapours on petrol filling station forecourts, or other locations where flammable vapours were present.
As a result, the Energy Institute in conjunction with Intellect, the trade association for IT, Telecomms and Electronics industries in the UK, conducted a study into the risks of ignition of flammable vapours by mobile phones.
The results of the study were presented at a technical seminar hosted by the EI in March 2003. The main conclusions where that:
- There were no confirmed ignition incidents associated with mobile phones anywhere in the world.
- Mobile phones, although not specifically designed to standards as 'protected equipment', pose a negligible ignition risk, and one that is far less than other ignition sources on a fuel forecourt
The use of mobile phones on UKPIA members’ forecourts is actively discouraged for several reasons:
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. However 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.Such use is expressly forbidden by law under the conditions of the petroleum licence and associated guidance. 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 that exist on a forecourt. Generally,there is no need to restrict the use of mobile telephones in other areas of the forecourt, such as in the shop, in motor vehicles parked on the forecourt or in other non-hazardous areas.