Centre’s safety body warns against use of mobile wallets, PoS devices at fuel stations

Safety warning:Use of mobile wallets and PoS devices in hazardous zones may trigger explosions.— FILE PHOTO: K.Pichumani  

The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) has urged the Centre to warn retailers against using mobile wallets and point of sale devices at petrol pumps.

“We have told the petroleum ministry that the use of mobile wallets and swipe machines for debit cards should be avoided while a vehicle is being fuelled and a hazardous area around the fuel dispensing area must be clearly and prominently marked out,” a senior industry ministry official told The Hindu.

Explosives Act

The PESO, entrusted with the administration of the Explosives Act of 1884 and the Petroleum Act of 1934, reports to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The official said it was now the petroleum ministry’s role to communicate these safety instructions to retail outlets for petroleum products.

“There would be no objection for the use of point of sale unit/mobile e-wallet beyond the hazardous area around the petroleum dispenser in petroleum retail outlets licensed under the Petroleum Rules, 2002,” Joint Chief Controller of Explosives N.T. Shahu wrote in a missive to the oil and industry ministries on December 19.

Hazardous zones

As per the norms regarding electrical appliances’ use around fuel pumps, there are two hazardous zones. Zone 1, which is most hazardous covers the area 1.2 metres vertically above the base of the fuel pump and 45 centimetres away horizontally in all directions.

Zone 2 includes the area between 45 cms and six metres of the cabinet enclosing the fuel pump, extending 45 cms vertically above the floor level.

Public safety

On Saturday, National Disaster Management Authority’s previous vice-chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy wrote to Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha and called for urgent steps to ensure that these conditions laid out by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation are meticulously followed to prevent any untoward incidents.

“I request you to immediately direct the Petroleum & Natural Gas ministry and chief secretaries of all States to take necessary steps to comply with the advisory from PESO in a time bound manner,” Mr. Reddy said.

“This is extremely important from the point of view of public safety consequent to their being pushed to the use of digital payment platforms post demonetisation.”