This Safety Alert is issued following a recent incident involving the ignition of a hand sanitiser that caused injury to a transport haulier and damage to the vehicle. With hand sanitiser being used much more widely since the Coronavirus outbreak, it is important that you familiarise yourself with how to use it and store it safely.


The haulier was attending a customer site and after opening the site gates, the driver returned to his vehicle cab and used an alcohol based hand sanitiser from a 1ltr container with pump and dispenser.
After applying the hand sanitiser the haulier driver proceeded to light a naked flame which appears to have ignited the hand sanitiser residue on his hands and within the bottle and cab.

This has caused an explosion and fire within the cab which resulted in the vehicle windscreen being blown out and thrown several metres down the road.
The fire service extinguished the vehicle fire, and the haulier driver attended the local hospital where he was treated for burns to his hand and forearm.

Immediate action required

Questions to ask yourself

  • Be aware that alcohol-based hand sanitiser is a flammable substance with a low flash point of approximately 23° Centigrade.
  • How to use hand sanitizer:
    • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
    • Rub your hands together.
    • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
  • If you are working with electricity, in the proximity of an ignition source, conducting any hot work, or within a confined space you should use soap and water instead of hand sanitiser to wash your hands before and after the activity.
  • Hand sanitisers must be stored in a cool, well ventilated location, and not within direct sunlight. Avoid leaving them in areas where they will become warm E.G. within vehicles and on window sills
  • Where there is a need to carry hand sanitiser on your person do so in minimal quantities I.E. as small a bottle as possible
  • Following use, check that the container is closed tightly with no visible damage or leaks.
  • Be aware that you must not smoke in any company vehicle.