Fill ‘er up
If you've ever wondered why you can't pump your own gas in Oregon, you can check out the long list of reasons the Legislature included in ORS 480.315—the gasoline dispensing law.
The main reason is safety: The law says that properly trained employees dispense fuel more safely, which reduces the potential for fire hazards. The law cites other customer safety benefits, including decreased exposure to toxic fumes, slippery pavement, and crime.
Although gas station attendants shield customers from these exposures, they are themselves at risk. It’s important for attendants to learn proper procedures for pumping gas and managing other exposures.
“The best thing you can do is to hire the right people and give them the right training,” said Trevor Ansbro, SAIF loss control program adviser.
At Welches Gas Station, safety runs in the family: Three generations of the Spatuzzi family work at the small station, which employs seven to 10 people, depending on the season.
The little station off Highway 26 near Mt. Hood is equipped with modern gas pumps and emergency shutoff systems. New employees receive training from a tenured attendant on fueling and emergency procedures before they are allowed to pump gas. Employees never work alone at the station, which ensures a quicker response in the event of an emergency or a criminal incident.
“I want my employees to fully understand that we are dealing with hazardous substances, all day, every day,” said Linda Spatuzzi, who owns the station with her husband, Tony. “We have seen and heard the stories of what can happen, for example, from a little spark of static electricity. We dispense gasoline, diesel, and propane. Any one of these has the potential to create #a volatile situation.”
Spatuzzi said she thinks of her employees as family, and some of them literally are family—including her daughter, Angie, and her grandchildren, Alex and Sam. Over the years, she’s watched footage of how inattention can lead to tragic accidents at the pump, so she does what she can to instill good safety practices in her employees.
“I want my employees to be safe because I care about them, and because I care about our customers,” said Spatuzzi. “This is our community—we live and work here—so it’s important to me that we keep everyone safe.”
This article is from the fall 2012 issue of Comp News. See other articles from this publication.