Ontario to Allow Cellphones at Gas Stations After Ignition Risk Deemed ‘1 in 10 Billion’

Ontario’s safety regulatory, the Technical Standards Safety Authority (TSSA), has announced it will soon allow cellphone use at gas stations again, citing the popularity of mobile payments.

The TSSA posted an advisory notice last Friday, detailing how it “has reviewed its position on using cell phones at the dispensers at gasoline facilities.”

Previously, cellphones were banned at the pumps over fears signals could cause an ignition risk, according to the TSSA.

However, times are changing. The TSSA explained in their notice, “with the proliferation of mobile payment, the fuel industry has asked for customers to be permitted to pay from their cell phones at the pumps.”

Citing a risk report commissioned by the Canadian Fuels Association, completed by U.S. engineering firm BakerRisk, the latter’s risk assessment released on February 4, 2019, cited a low probability of cellphones causing sparks and an explosion at the pumps.

“There is a very low probability of cell phones being able to ignite even an ideal flammable gas mixture in the air,” reads the BakerRisk report. “There have been no fires reported at gas stations attributed to cell phone ignition in the last 20 years,” explained Adrian Pieroraio and Syed Taha from BakerRisk.

The U.S. firm’s report says with roughly 1 billion fill-ups annually in Canada, there is a “cell phone ignition probability” of “one chance in 10 billion”, adding “the chance that a cell phone will ignite the vapours generated at the pumps is negligible.”

The TSSA notice concludes to say it “accepts the conclusion therein that a cell phone is a negligible source of ignition,” and that it will now “permit cell phones to be used for payment at dispensers at licensed gasoline facilities in Ontario.

Customers at the pump should still be focused on their refuelling task at hand, and not use the cellphone for distraction, according to the TSSA.

Seems like an appropriate move to make based on mobile payments, but this could lead to more people being distracted while filling up their gas tank (you can bet someone is going to put diesel in their tank instead of gas and vice versa, because of Instagram or the Facebooks).

While the ban on cellphones have been lifted at gas stations in Ontario, school classrooms are set to have them banned starting this fall.

[via CTV News]