Government wants higher standards after explosion kills one person

The Jamaica government says it is focused on ensuring the highest standard of safety in the petroleum trade after one person was killed following an explosion and fire that damaged a gas station in Mandeville last Friday.

“This is something we would not like to be repeated at any one of our 320 stations across Jamaica. I know that there is much to be done in terms of the petroleum trade,” said Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Fayval Williams.

Safety training is essential

“We have draft regulations that we’ve been working on. We want to get those out, we want to ensure that safety in the industry is paramount. We want to ensure that staff is being trained on a frequent basis to recognise danger signs at the stations at which they work,” she told a news conference on Monday.

Seven people were also injured in the explosion and Williams, who had earlier visited the facility to meet with management and staff as well as to get a first-hand view of the damage, noted that while the station passed all safety checks done last year, it was recognised that there are gaps that need to be addressed.

She said that even though the turnover of certain jobs at gas stations is quite high, “that does not excuse the owners in ensuring that as soon as new people come on, that the training is done so that it heightens their awareness of the safety regulations at the service stations at which they work”.

“We want to ensure that staff is being trained on a frequent basis to recognise danger signs at the stations at which they work.”

The Minister further pointed out that the government is working to finalise regulations governing the petroleum sector, during this year and that the laws are to be amended to include the many recommendations that came out of the Petroleum Trade Reform Committee in 2016.

Industrial safety best practices

The head of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), Todd Johnson, said that there are industrial safety best practices that should attain at any facility, especially service stations.

“Where there is a gas leak, the common industrial safety best practices would include shutting down primary power to the fuel dispensers to prevent fuelling; ceasing all fuelling operations at service stations; [and] instructing all vehicles that are on the service station if their engines are on, to shut them [off],” he said.

But Johnson said that if after shutting off the engines, and there is a heat source from that, the cars are to be put in neutral then physically pushed off the premises. In addition, another precaution is to barricade the dispensing area to prevent access of foot and vehicular traffic to the premises.