Filling up fuel containers on the back of a ute, at servo's ?

Submitted: Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 19:53
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It's been very noticeable around our district over the last few months, that the filling up of fuel containers in or on a vehicle is being policed very heavily by the servo's safety staff, ..all containers must be placed on the ground,..static electricity must be the worry....Have always filled up drums on the back of the landy for years, even 44s,without any question,...looks like i'll get a 200l ute tank, but I cant see what difference it will make, you put them on strap or tie them down and go and fill it up. Have not seen any special earthstraps or any imformation regarding it being a dangerous practice, One thing for sure I won't be putting it on the ground and lifting the bastard back on again!..lol...


Cheers Axle.
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Reply By: disco driver - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:10

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:10
Our two local servo's regularly fill 200lt drums on ute backs and almost as regularly fill 500-1000lt tanks on local contractor/shire service units (1.5/2ton trucks) with no obvious earth straps to the ground.
Obviously it's diesel, not petrol which is a different kettle of fish altogether.

Don't know about the legality but it's common practice here.

Disco.
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Follow Up By: Axle - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:21

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:21
Hi Disco,...Its a issue that needs to be addressed across the board, because its all over the place at the moment, ..Yeah petrol a bit different , but you know what! back on the farm the fuel supplier would throw a 44 of petrol off the side of the truck no worrys....thinking back...chiiiiiit!!.


Axle.
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Follow Up By: Ross M - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 21:38

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 21:38
Axle
Petrol isn't a bit different to diesel, it is a lot different.
Normal static charge won't light diesel but as you know with petrol, no worries.
If you touch the item and the pump, gotta be close, at the same time then there should be no static after you jump.

Mobile phone radiation makes a user charged and that alters things if dealing with petrol at the same time.

The worst is, going back into the vehicle, clothes sliding on the seats and you come out charged and then touch the fuel fill area.

Apparently there are statistics on the number of women who have been burnt as a result of getting the money out of the car mid fill and then placing the nozzle back on the pump.
Men have money on their person, women have it in a bag on the other seat. Just the way it happens.

Dropping 44's onto a tyre was common wasn't it. All good though.
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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 17:48

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 17:48
'Mobile phone radiation makes a user charged and that alters things if dealing with petrol at the same time.'

Some time ago, I had heard that there has never been a fire related to the use of mobile phones in a service station (or other location), and did some internet searching for a confirmation.
While the internet should not be the be all and end all, it appears there are plenty of sources showing issues with static electricity as mentioned, mostly from ladies retrieving payment while filling up, and wearing synthetic clothing . . .

But never from a mobile apparently.

The servo crews can be pretty anal about this, and probably just get it drilled into them by the fuel companies concerned.

http://www.snopes.com/autos/hazards/gasvapor.asp

http://www.howitworksdaily.com/q-and-a/should-you-never-use-your-mobile-phone-at-a-petrol-station/

http://truthandmyth.blogspot.com.au/2006/03/facts-about-cell-phones-and-fires-at.html

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/11/30/1799366.htm

Just a few links found again today, and none that show any negative aspects of mobiles and fueling.
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 07:46

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 07:46
A mobile phone may give you cancer but it won't give you a static charge.

You can even use a mobile phone on the internal roads at the Shell Refineries. The only concern they have is that you can't talk on a phone while driving lol. Oh and that you don't remove the battery which CAN make a spark.

The only charge you'll get from a mobile phone is at the end of the month in the mail. That charge can be a shocker.
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Follow Up By: Slow one - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 09:47

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 09:47
Boobook,
love your reply, I had a good laugh.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 10:10

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 10:10
Finally found a photo of Boobook:

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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 10:59

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 10:59
I must have just got off the phone.
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Reply By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:13

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:13
Hey Axle.I have a 1cm thick rubber floor liner in my ute and still got asked to place 20l fuel containers on the ground. I had 5 of them and my back was 65 years old at the time so asked the attendant if he would lift them back up for me. He kind of retreated after that question. Cheers, Bob.
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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:18

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:18
Bob! How were you going to handle them after filling them? Michael
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Follow Up By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:24

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:24
Hi Michael. They were for my son in law's ski boat so I only had to deliver them. I was just the gopher as FIL's usually are. lol
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Follow Up By: Axle - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:25

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:25
My answers haven't gone down real well either Bob, ..But I can see that rules are going to be rules, or keep drivin around..lol.


Cheers Axle.
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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 10:46

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 10:46
Bob! I think 20 litre Jerry cans are problematic for everyone. They are awkward to empty into vehicles also, you cant put weight onto the spout so you just have to hold the weight till it lightens as it empties. I think 10 litre are more practical but take up more floor space unfortunately. I saw a 15 litre plastic jerry can at a market a few months ago, narrow but full height, quality looking item, I should have noted the brand. Michael
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Reply By: greg l2 - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:14

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:14
hi axel
shell servo in gatton has pamplets on counter as to why they do not allow it, BP gatton area blasts you over pa, if you act act as thow you cant hear some one will come ou put them on groun , fill and put them back up with a smile, they would have a GOOD reason for it no doubt
the booklet is called (guide lines for filling fuel containers as is free )
cheers
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Reply By: cookie1 - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:20

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:20
Yep they really don't like it and I guess they have good reason

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jrDFiFscbs

cheers
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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 21:31

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 21:31
At a servo once I saw them shut down the pump when someone started filling a jerry can with ULP while on the trayback. They showed me a newspaper clipping of a fire. Diesel seems to be accepted, and we had no issues or questions asked when filling an auxiliary tank on the ute when travelling.

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Reply By: hazo - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 21:32

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 21:32
I've got a 100ltr diesel transfer tank on the tray of my truck, it came with an earth lead and alligator clip.

No idea where I'm supposed to clip it so never used it as yet. It is bonded to the metal pump unit on top of the tank.

Probably not as important with diesel as petrol would be.
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Reply By: The Bantam - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 23:59

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 23:59
Make no mistake, this is a live issue.

Firstly
There is a substantial difference between Diesel and Petrol.

Petrol is considered highly flamable..and that is reasonable because it WILL ignite or explode from quite modest sorces of ignition and with relativly small amounts of fumes..

Diesel fuel is calasified as "combustable" the same catagory as wood and paper.

The taking of containers out of vehicels is two fold.

One is the very real risk of spilling fuel inside the vehicle....even though it may just be the tray.....the pool of flamable liquid will still be in or on the vehicle.....that adds a whole extra diemension to the hazard.

Yes then there is the issue of grounding and static discharge.


If the container is placed on the ground there is unlikley to be any static difference between the container and the nozzle.........the nozzle is grounded.


If the vehicle has been traveling in dry air at speed there is a real posibility that the whole vehicle including the containers has become charged.

Filling on the ground dramitically reduces a range of risks to near zero..

There are sitiations that are equally or more hazardous...But this one is easy to controll.


If you have a earthing strap it should be connected the the metal body of the pump before the filler is opened or the nozzle is lifted out of the holder.


Static is a risk for all fuel filling operations.

when filling the car...the best hazard reduction is to...

Not allow fuel to be dispensed without a hand on the pump hand piece...that is why pretty well, no pumps have a latch on them these days....this makes sure the person is grounded.

Do not re-enter the car during a filling process nor allow anybody to enter or exit the car while filling is taking place.

Personally I always, pick up the nozzle while leaning the other hand on the body of the car.....this ensures all 3 items are at the same potential before the nozzle is presented to the filler.

people my think this is nanny like....but fact is $#!t happens.

cheers
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Reply By: Lyn W3 - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 07:38

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 07:38
Our local Shell servo is very strict on the subject as they recent had a visit from Workplace health and Safety following an "incident".

All portable containers must be approved and stamped AS2906 (no 20l oil drums allowed)
Maximum size of portable containers is 25l
All containers must be placed on the ground to fill (not on roof racks, trailers, caravans etc)
205l (44's) CANNOT be filled
The portable grey tanks used in backs of utes etc must be permanently mounted with earth strap attached.

Get used to it, or the servos will face some pretty hefty Fines.
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Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 09:20

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 09:20
Is it the same for plastic fuel containers?

We have two of those yellow ones for diesel. I don't believe they are capable of holding a static charge. But who knows.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Lyn W3 - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 09:52

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 09:52
Our local Shell servo requires that ALL fuel containers be placed on the ground. Petrol or Diesel.

Petrol is considered to be a "Flammable Liquid" whereas diesel is a "Combustible Liquid"

The "incident" at this Shell servo was that someone tried to fill a jerry can/container on a roof rack with the HiFlow nozzle. Ended up giving 3-4 other cars a good shower of diesel.
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 10:05

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 10:05
Thats fine Lyn "Our local Shell servo requires that ALL fuel containers be placed on the ground. Petrol or Diesel. "

But what do the actual OH&S or Workplace Safety documents say?

I will just follow the leader, so to speak, and fill mine on the ground but it would be nice to know what the actual written law or regulation states.

Thanks

Phil
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Follow Up By: Lyn W3 - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 11:35

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 11:35
Phil,
Here is the Work Place Safety Doc for Vic, I would presume it is similar for all states. Interpret as you see fit as to whether it covers Diesel or not.

Safety Document

Here is what the Shell website has:

Filling Containers

Fill only properly labelled containers which have been stamped to say they are approved to carry flammable liquids.
Filling non-approved or incorrectly labelled containers from dispensing pumps is illegal.
Do not fill containers on the back of a truck deck, trailer, ute, in car boots, etc.
When filling a portable container, manually control the nozzle valve and fill slowly throughout the process to reduce the chance of static electricity build-up and minimize splattering / spilling.



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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 11:53

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 11:53
Thanks Lyn. That'l do me. I prefer to read the official document. We have too many people who think that they can interpret it better than the legal profession. Then you see look at their post and see thrie idea of the written word. I makes me laugh at times.

I would say that it covers any fluid that fits within the interpretation of the word "fuel". And diesel is a fuel. Thus what I have been doing is correct. I'm happy with that.

Catchya

Phil
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 00:20

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 00:20
As I mentioned in my earlier post, the primary concern is fuel spillage.

In the eyes of the safety professionals and the regulators any sort of fuel spillage is a major hazard in its self.

If that fuel is spilled on or into a vehicle, it makes that spill very much harder to deal with....regardless of the fuel type.

It is quite concieveable that if a significant quantity of fuel was spilled into or onto a vehicle.....the fuel station operator may feel obloged to declare that vacinity of the vehicle a dangerous situation, stop all products, evacuate the area, close down the fuel station and not allow the vehicle to be moved untill the fuel spill has been handled and declared safe by someone qualified to do so...meaning a fire brigade call.

This small spill may end up costing all parties in the thousands of dollars once emergency service attendance, clean up and loss of trade is accounted for.

A small fuel spill on the ground may be handled with the fuel spill kit all petrol stations now have on hand or by other simple means.

Besides when filling on the ground a spill is less likely.

Static and potential ignition is a secondary hazard....which again is made worse when the spill is in or on a vehicle...because the vehicle presents multiple potential sources of ignition.


NOW remember...if the regulators have made a ruling on the matter and the fuel companies have made their polocy clear and they have made reasonable attempts to prevent people from attempting non compliant filling.

Should the spill occur and the senario outlined above play out...the whole thing will be placed in the hands of the fuel stations insurer....who will no doubt seek reimbursement of their costs from the offender.....that is you.

that will certainly be way more than the fine levied by the government.

So..are you feeling lucky.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 00:48

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 00:48
So where does the priorities lie here. Twice only the word "hazard" appears. All the rest is about financial implications.

It's not you Bantam. That post is typical of the way things are these days.

Years ago it would be all about spilling and getting burnt. And then who pays for the hospital.

Phil
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 10:55

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 10:55
I see you got the idea Phill.

Its the way things are these days....and for some it is the only way they understand....so pretty well every time the words "risk" and "responsibility" appear they will be expressed as a cost in dollars at some point.

I think it is unfortunate that almost avery situation involving regulation and risk, the matter is delt with in terms of what happens when something goes wrong, the cost involved and who will pay.

The emphasis has changed from inspectors making sure things are done right to being enforcement staff that has the majority of their activity when things go wrong.

For so many thing we have a low probability of getting caught doing the wrong thing, but huge penalties for even minor breaches.


Much of the occupational and business licencing has changed from....yeh ya realy need a licence to do this stuff because you need to know stuff and be able to prove it...to you need a licence to do this stuff because you need to have insurance (so the bill can be paid) and we need to be able to prove you should have known better.

cheers
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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 10:54

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 10:54
I have to say I have many a time, filled my two plastic jerries that live on the draw bar in their holder of our off-road trailer, never had a problem and never been challenged. I think I will change my ways from now on! Even though its diesel fuel. Michael
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Follow Up By: Axle - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 11:29

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 11:29
G/Day Mike, it does make you think! I've done it for years

Bit like the frog crossing the road everyday..lol.


Axle.
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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 18:03

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 18:03
Axle! I have many a time in wet weather, in my younger days when the frogs are on the road, aimed for them! I get your point! Michael
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Reply By: Tony H15 - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 18:25

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 18:25
I used to carry three 20 litre jerry cans in the back of my Hilux diesel; rather than lift them out and hold them up when filling the tank, I stored them in the tray near the fuel filler and used a jiggler siphon. Not as messy either.
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 18:44

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 18:44
There is a general belief that vehicles become statically charged by driving through air. This is not the case. Tyres on motor vehicles have a degree of electrical conductivity that continually allows discharge to earth of any static electricity.

To help convince those of disbelief, I have just now measured the electrical resistance of my Troopy from the body metal to the earth that it is sitting upon. The resistance was 1.25 Megohms, quite low enough to discharge any static buildup to a value below which a spark would ignite a flammable vapour.

The static shocks that some have experienced when alighting from a vehicle are caused by friction between the seat and clothing, the discharge being experienced when the person touches the body of the car. It can be avoided by keeping one's hand on a metal part of the body throughout the alighting.

If cars were statically charged when arriving at the fuel pump then a real risk would occur at the moment when the pump nozzle made contact with the vehicle filling pipe as an electrical discharge would take place in a vapour field. Clearly, this does not happen on a daily basis. lol.

Fuel falling through the air, as when a nozzle fills a container, can generate a static charge and earthing of the container will usually limit the degree of buildup. In large tanks within petroleum plants the liquid is arranged to enter the vessel in a manner to avoid falling through the vapour space, commonly by flowing through piping to the bottom of the vessel. The "falling" distance in a 20 litre container is relatively short but progressive buildup of charge could occur if the container is not earthed.

As with all safety issues, the solution is to eliminate or reduce the risks as far as is reasonably possible.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 10:42

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 10:42
Good question Allan - why are Jerry cans in the tray any more prone to static charge than the main vehicle itself??? And are plastic containers prone to this ??
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 11:11

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 11:11
Get back to the main issue being the spill, ignition is the secondary risk.

Jerries in the tray are more prone to static discharge because they may be insulated both by the tyres( arguable) or by whatever they or the tray may be sitting on

Any container on the ground will tend to have any static charge disipated by sitting on the ground.

BUT remember putting the container on the ground is a total package risk reduction.

As well as managing the static issue.....which in the total outlook is relativly minor.

It ensures that the container is on the ground in open space, that alone reduces multiple risks.

Having the container out of the vehicle means it can be seen for what it is.....if the container is a non compliant vessel....the service station operator and those around could identify it as such and stop the filling.

A service ststion operator is not suposed to enable the pump till they see what is being filled, by whom and that there is a reasonable chance that it is being done in a safe manner.

If the container has to be lifted out of the vehicle its is far less likely that the container will be over the 25 litre limit...on the basis of weight.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 11:16

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 11:16
Allan, I'm not sure about your 1.5Mohm on your troopy but clothing rubbing on seats is just one source of static electricity in a vehicle. Another is dry air passing over the body of the vehicle. You would generally experience this in low humidity conditions.

You can get a static shock just touching a car that recently stopped without ever opening the door. The sticks pointing backwards from aircraft wings are there to discharge this air generated static in a managed way without causing sparks and radio interference. They provide a similar role to those straps you used to see on cars.
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 11:20

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 11:20
OH and remember this polocy is not framed specifically for utes and trailers, it is framed for all vehicles.

I have actually seen people filling containers IN the back seat foot well or in the back of station waggons....where there may be carpets and other absorbent materials....and those carpets and fabrics may be the source of static discharge.


The straight forward polocy that all portable containers must be out of the vehicle and rest on the ground to be filled is sensible and covers a vide variety of situations.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 11:21

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 11:21
I'd be more worried about people wandering around in rubber soled shoes and nylon jumpers....

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 12:36

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 12:36
Boobook,

You may not be sure about my Troopie's 1.5 Megohm tyre resistance, but I certainly am.
For a quick test I used my DVM but had I used my 1kv insulation tester I would expect an even lower resistance, however it has flat batteries at the moment.

The conductivity of motor tyres comes from the tyre compound formulation containing carbon black for physical reasons however it creates a bonus of electrical conductivity. (Cred. I have experience in the industry) You may find this reference of interest, and there are others to be found by search.

Although having driven many, many thousand of kilometres in hot dry conditions, I have never experienced static discharge shock from a vehicle. I have however often been the victim of shock from sliding off the seat then touching the bodywork.

The discharge wicks on aircraft facilitate the reduction of static buildup by corona effect but with a resistance of several hundred Megohms are only effective at higher voltages. They do provide continual discharge which eliminates even higher voltage buildup with resulting periodic discharge sparks affecting radio and instrumentation. They do actually produce some emissions in the radio frequency range but it is at lower energy level and in the form of white-noise which is manageable.
These discharge wicks do not bring the aircraft static voltage down to Terra firma potential which becomes the role of the conductive aircraft tyres.

The "straps you used to see" on cars for supposedly eliminating static charge and hence motion sickness were nothing more than a commercial deceit. For the most part they "flew" in the air without touching the road and in any case, the conductive tyres performed the discharge duty adequately. Many years ago I actually tested several of these straps and found negligible conductivity probably because they were manufactured from rubber not containing significant quantity of carbon black. Their small cross-sectional area would not have helped either. Like most commercial hoaxes, they disappeared after a time.


Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 13:29

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 13:29
Those car sickness straps most certainly have not disapeared....I have seen them on sale recently, made of plastic with a pair of orange stripes on them......the orange stripes probably improve digital performance. ;)

My father informed me that they where a joke way back in the 60's..as soon as I was young enough to ask why they where there.

He knew a thing or two about motion sickness...he was a shipright and served in the navy during the war.......people got motion sick on boats & ships....certainly not a static issue.

Even when stationary I doubt thet they could make adequate contact with the ground even if there was a problem and if they where sufficiently conductive.

As far as sources of ignition in cars...while there are some obscure cases of static.....the hot metal and electrical contact arcs that abound in vehicles are more likely sources.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 14:07

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 14:07
Still around eh? With digital performance even? LOL

Back in the 60's there were those who swore it cured car sickness. Possibly the placebo effect?

As you say Bantam, the minimal ground contact wouldn't help.

I actually shortened one on a rellies car so that it cleared the ground without the passengers getting sick! I viewed that as some sort of scientific experiment and proof of claptrap.

As for ignition of vapours at servos and the exhortations to not use even a mobile phone, I have long wondered about the starter motor hanging nicely in the possible vapour field and producing violent sparking on its commutator. The motor enclosure is hardly Zone 1 classification yet I have never heard of anyone disappearing at the press of the starter button.


Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 16:50

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 16:50
I remember when fuel tankers had a length of chain dragging on the road. I suppose the 'mind over matter' straps were an improvement on chains.
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Reply By: Albany Nomads - Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 16:06

Sunday, Mar 30, 2014 at 16:06
Our servo has rules that apply also to filling of jerry cans but it's to do with the height of the container in relation to the person filling
Eg they won't let me fill a jerry can on the rear of our tray 4x4 whilst standing at the side of the ute because the fuel nozzle is above chest height eg it's head height
But if I was to fill the jerry can on the tray of a garden tray the filler middle would be a approx waist height and as such acceptable
It's all to do with spillage and fuel bouncing back at the operator
Simply it's OHS
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