Worker burned during refuelling

The purpose of this Safety Alert is to highlight the increased risk of fires during refuelling of petrol powered equipment.


A worker received burns to their body while refuelling a petrol powered high-pressure washer.  The incident occurred while the petrol powered pressure washer was still hot from use.

Contributing factors

The investigation found a number of contributing factors, including:

  • Refuelling while the high-pressure washer engine was still hot from use.
  • The design of the pressure washer where the fuel tank was located directly over the top of the pressure washer engine.
  • The pressure washer engine is fuelled by petrol, which is a flammable liquid.
  • Vapours and fuel spills are easily ignited.
  • The pressure washer was mounted on the tray of a tray back vehicle, requiring workers to stand on top of the vehicle tray for refuelling tasks. Depending on the positioning of the equipment, the working space may be limited; this may also have affected safe access / egress to the pressure washer.

Action required

  • Undertake a risk assessment to ensure control measures are in place to eliminate ignition hazards when refuelling.
  • Ensure workers are aware of fire risks during refuelling petrol powered equipment, and understand the control measures implemented to prevent the risk of fire.
  • Consider the use of a removable / portable fuel tank.
  • Consider the use of funnels to reduce the risk of spillage.
  • Ensure all equipment is switched off allowing the engine to cool down prior refuelling.
  • Refuel away from heat and possible ignition sources; including hot parts, vapours or flames.
  • Refuel in well-ventilated areas.
  • Refuel using appropriate fuel containers.
  • Ensure appropriate fire extinguishers are readily accessible; dry powder extinguishers are suitable for petrol fires.
  • Consider the positioning of equipment for safe access when setting up vehicles.
  • Consult with the manufacturer if you are considering redesigning the setup of the equipment.
  • Ensure workers refuelling equipment are trained and competent to perform the task.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety boots, non-flammable long pants and long sleeve shirts, eye or face protection, and gloves.

Further information

For further information, please refer to the following:

Code of practice

Guidance publications

Safety Alerts

Contact details

Call us on: 1800 019 115

Email us at

For more information on work health and safety, go to NT WorkSafe’s website at


This Safety Alert contains safety information following inquires made by NT WorkSafe about an incident or unsafe practice. The information contained in this Alert does not necessarily include the outcome of NT WorkSafe’s action with respect to an incident. NT WorkSafe does not warrant the information in this Alert is complete or up-to-date and does not accept any liability for the information in this report or as to its use.