Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008 16:17:53 -0400
Reply-To: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: ILPI <info**At_Symbol_Here**ILPI.COM>
Subject: Re: Anyone familiar with gas station pump hazards?
Comments: cc: sstepenuck**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To: <2DC661C5-A0A8-4047-9EB9-806C7C25E397**At_Symbol_Here**>

Thanks for the reply and info.  The psi is certainly open to debate, 
as it's what the victim of this incident reported to me, not a fact 
that I checked.  But I can assure you this incident was not an urban 
legend - it was communicated to me firsthand by the victim who is 
pursuing a case in federal court; at least, that's what she told me 
and I have no reason to believe she's making this or her injuries up.

Your point of not-well-maintained or damaged equipment is the crux 
here.    She sent me pictures of the hose lying on the ground and the 
manifold from which it popped off.   It seems obvious from the photo 
of the remaining intact connection that the equipment was not 
properly maintained.  And because the hose coupling is well above 
head height and the hose is heavy, the decoupled end could inflict 
injury even without any pressurization. I have posted these here so 
interested list members can view them:

Look at that third one.  That warning/maintenance label on the 
coupler is so cruddy it's no longer readable.  In fact, she also 
reported that she had talked to someone in one of the trade 
associations who indicated that they were aware that many stations 
fail to do proper maintenance on these sorts of pump connections.

Finally, this was a self-serve station.  Employees do not pump the 
gas, and no employee was involved, so there is no OSHA violation of 
which I am aware, save a creative interpretation under the General 
Duty Clause (section 5) of the OSH Act...a bit of a hard connection 
to make given that employees don't operate the pumps:

Rob Toreki

>A reply to a question from last week...
>>I had a phone call from someone who was injured at a self-service 
>>gas pump in rural Georgia... The end of the hose attached to the 
>>pump flew off and hit her on the head.  She was sprayed with gas, 
>>and suffered ongoing medical issues from the impact with her left 
>	From:	sstepenuck**At_Symbol_Here**
>	Subject:	Anyone familiar with...
>	Date:	September 9, 2008 5:18:15 PM EDT (CA)
>I forwarded that email to my kids and to one of my cousins who has 
>much experience in industry.
>Here, with a couple of minor grammatical mistakes corrected, and 
>with full disclaimers on my and his part, is his reply:
>I do suspect urban legend here or at least some incorrect facts. 
>I've worked around fuel dispensing equipment all my life and never 
>heard of such a thing.
>Most modern fuel pumps aren't really pumps, they're only metering 
>dispensers because the actual pump is in the underground tank. So 
>for technical accuracy, I will use the word "dispenser" as opposed 
>to "pump" even though we all know them as pumps.
>Most modern dispensers have an overhead manifold with a hose 
>attachment fitting sticking through an opening in the overhead sheet 
>metal. From that fitting hangs a very short piece of hose which ends 
>with a "break-away" coupler. From the break-away coupler there is 
>usually the longer hose with nozzle.
>The purpose of the break-away coupler is for the nitwit who drives 
>away with the nozzle still in the car. The break-away is designed to 
>be the weakest link in the hose assembly so that it will part first 
>when faced with the tension created by a departing car. Even so, it 
>takes a fair amount of force to cause a break away. Most people 
>could not part one simply by yanking because they are not strong 
>enough. The break-away has an internal valve which will slam shut in 
>the event it is parted. They are quite reliable and are rigorously 
>tested and they immediately stop all fuel flow. There might be a 
>momentary "psst" of fuel but no great wide-open spraying like you 
>might have with a garden hose nozzle. They are similar in design to 
>quick-disconnect couplers used on pneumatic tools.
>Even if the valve failed and caused the short hose with the 
>break-away to whip around wildly, keep in mind that length is very 
>short and the height is well above any normal person's head. Also 
>most systems operate a much lower pressures that claimed in the 
>Consider this: Everybody has played with a garden hose. The average 
>garden hose operates at typical water main pressure of 35 to 80 PSI 
>and even at that pressure the hose would blow itself out of the 
>filler pipe if you weren't forcibly holding it in. Imagine a fuel 
>nozzle at 150 PSI! It would take at least two rugged firefighters 
>simply to hold the nozzle into the filler on your fender. That 
>vision alone puts the lie to this story. If you stuck a 150 psi 
>nozzle into an empty "jerry jug" setting on the ground and pulled 
>the trigger, the jug would be blown clean across the parking lot 
>assuming you weren't knocked to the ground by the reactive thrust.
>I suppose there is the possibility that a break-away coupler could 
>just spontaneously part and the hose would fall to the ground. If 
>you were standing directly under it you might be hit in the head but 
>it would be by the force due to gravity because the pump pressure 
>would be contained in the short portion still attached to the 
>dispenser. It would seem to me that only two scenarios that could 
>cause a spontaneous break-away are an incorrectly installed 
>break-away coupler that wasn't tested, i.e. the two haves weren't 
>fully inserted together and latched or a damaged break-away coupler 
>that just experienced an incomplete break-away caused by a departing 
>nitwit. Keep in mind that the second scenario would require the next 
>customer to have to pick up the nozzle from the ground because 
>that's where it would be laying since the nitwit drove away.
>Unless I'm missing something here, I just can't buy this story as 
>it's written. I'm not writing it off entirely but it needs much more 
>detailed specifics. One thing is for sure, they aren't commonplace 
>as suggested in the e-mail. Also OSHA would cover any event at a 
>full-serve station where the operator is an employee. This would 
>also be true at non-public fleet fueling station. Even at the public 
>self-serve stations, any event that occurred while the employees 
>were servicing or testing the coupler would be covered by OSHA.

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