- Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams, says the Government is focused on ensuring the highest standard of safety in the petroleum trade.
- This follows an explosion and ensuing fire that damaged a section of the Heaven’s Fesco Gas Station in Mandeville, on Friday (February 21).
- Seven persons were injured, one of whom later died. He was a mechanic employed to the station.
Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams, says the Government is focused on ensuring the highest standard of safety in the petroleum trade.
This follows an explosion and ensuing fire that damaged a section of the Heaven’s Fesco Gas Station in Mandeville, on Friday (February 21).
Seven persons were injured, one of whom later died. He was a mechanic employed to the station.
Mrs. Williams visited the facility on Sunday (February 23) to meet with management and staff as well as to get a first-hand view of the damage.
Speaking at a press conference, held at the Trafalgar Road offices of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) on Monday (February 24), she noted that while the station passed all safety checks done last year, it was recognised that there are gaps that need to be addressed.
“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. 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 said.
Mrs. Williams noted 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”.
The Minister further pointed out that the Government is working to finalise regulations governing the petroleum sector, during this year.
She said that the laws are to be amended to include the many recommendations that came out of the Petroleum Trade Reform Committee in 2016. This committee had a mandate to undertake a comprehensive review of the regulations and protocols governing the petroleum trade in Jamaica.
The recommendations include clarification of the roles and responsibilities of the various government entities involved in the petroleum sector; the inclusion of occupational health and safety provisions in regulations to ensure proper working conditions for petroleum sector workers; and re-establishment of a Petroleum Safety Inspectorate as a department in the Ministry to regulate, oversee and monitor the petroleum sector.
“To date we have completed development of Jamaica’s national petroleum code, which establishes the standards and codes in relation to all petroleum activities which are already in place. The regulations would give the standards and code enforcement powers. Additionally, we have completed the necessary public consultation on the regulations. There is still a process to collate all the comments and see which ones can be taken on board,” she said.
In the meantime, head of the PCJ, Todd Johnson, pointed out 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 fueling; ceasing all fueling 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.
He noted, however, 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.
Mr. Johnson also advised that persons are to make an alarm so that co-workers, customers and other people in the surrounding area are aware that there is an issue and to stay as far away as possible.
Safety checks are normally carried out at least once a year by a Petroleum Safety Inspectorate, a unit within the Energy Ministry. Checks include whether the stations have safety signs and warnings, checking the pumps for safety, and ensuring there is sand to mop up spills. The Inspectorate also checks safety drills, ensures storage sites compliance and investigates reports of petroleum accidents and spillage.