Smoking isn’t a good idea in general. But if this worker must light up, is this the best place for him to do so?

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The science couldn’t be any clearer that smoking is bad for your health—and the health of those around you. That’s one reason why smoking is banned or seriously restricted in workplaces across Canada. But smoking can endanger worker safety in another way—it can ignite flammable substances in the workplace, causing explosions and fires.

The “NO SMOKING” sign in this picture couldn’t be any clearer. Perhaps the worker doesn’t speak English. Or maybe he needed a cigarette so badly that he just didn’t care.

Whatever this worker’s reasons, by lighting up next to a tank of flammable material, he endangered not only himself but everybody in the vicinity. And such an act can have serious consequences.

Example: A contractor in Philadelphia was smoking a cigarette as he tried to light a pilot light that had gone out on a water heater. The resulting explosion destroyed three houses and injured eight people, including the contractor.


If your workplace contains flammable liquids such as fuels, solvents and cleaning chemicals that can explode and burst into flames, you must take steps to ensure such liquids don’t ignite. To prevent explosions and fires when working with or near flammable liquids:

DO store flammable liquids in appropriate, specially designed containers

DON’T store or use flammable liquids near an ignition source

DO make sure all storage containers are grounded to prevent static electricity when transferring flammable liquids from one container to another

DON’T smoke when using or near flammable liquids

DO place fire extinguishers near areas where flammable liquids are stored

DON’T fill containers of flammable liquid past 80% of the container’s capacity

DO transport flammable liquids in the back of a truck or trunk of a car rather than inside the vehicle

DON’T use flammable liquids unless you’ve been properly trained to do so

DO use flammable liquids only in well-ventilated areas

DON’T use such liquids for anything other than their intended uses.