Handling bitumen safely

Bitumen is an important, environmentally-friendly material that helps provide a wide range of performance benefits and is used across a diverse range of applications: from road pavements and race-track surfaces through to airport aprons, runways and industrial water-proofing.

Bitumen is liquid when hot but turns solid at ambient temperatures. When mixing asphalt or producing roofing membranes, bitumen needs to be in a liquid state. This means that bitumen will be hot during many processes from production to transport, storage and handling. It is important, therefore, that everyone involved in handling bitumen and bituminous materials follows the relevant best practice guidelines and takes appropriate precautions.  

In accordance with Eurobitume’s mission, ‘to promote the efficient, safe use of bitumen in road, industrial and building projects throughout Europe‘, on behalf of our members we research key health, safety and environment (HSE) issues and publish a wealth of operational, safety and environmental guidance – developed in association with our members - in multiple European languages.

Safe Delivery of Bitumen Guide

One of Eurobitume’s important safety documents is our Guide to the Safe Delivery of Bitumen. Bitumen is hot when loaded onto tankers, transported and discharged, therefore it can present risks that can be managed by following the good practices detailed in the Safe Delivery Guide.

Developed by industry experts from Eurobitume and our member companies to help reduce this risk and avoid accidents, the guide clearly defines the responsibilities of all parties involved in the loading, transportation and discharge of bitumen, a summary of best practices and draws upon exhaustive research and years of practical experience.

The scope of operational advice and best practice guidelines within this Eurobitume Guide to the Safe Delivery of Bitumen covers the following areas:

  • Basic delivery site conditions
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Delivery vehicle equipment
  • Operation and maintenance of storage tanks and associated pipework
  • Procedures for deliveries
  • Training in handling and transportation
  • Safety documentation
  • Site inspection

The standard European version of Eurobitume’s Guide to the Safe Delivery of Bitumen reflects European legal requirements and ADR (The European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road) regulations.

To make this important safety information easily accessible and appropriate in countries throughout Europe, Eurobitume has made the Safe Delivery Guide available in a number of translated versions, either by providing a different language version of the European document or a national version. The national versions have been customised to reflect any regulatory and safety data specific to that country.

Safe Handling cards

Experts from Eurobitume member companies also contributed to the production of a Safe Handling Card, which summarises the principal hazards and risks associated with handling hot bitumen and provides best practice safety advice.

Available in 22 languages from the Eurobitume website, the Safe Handling Card contains:

  • General safety advice
  • Recommendations for personal safety measures, including PPE (personal protection equipment)
  • First aid recommendations
  • Advice about what to do in the event of a bitumen fire

Safety Shower guides

To aid the crucial, initial treatment of a bitumen burns victim, every site where hot bitumen is handled should have a suitably specified, appropriately located, safety shower. Experts from Eurobitume member companies have developed a Safety shower guidance document, which is available in five language versions from the Eurobitume website.

Burns cards

In the regrettable event that an individual worker comes into contact with hot bitumen, appropriate early treatment is critical.

Eurobitume provides practical advice for first-responders who attend bitumen burn incidents and guidance for medical professionals who subsequently treat bitumen burn victims. This has been collated on a Bitumen Burns Card which is available in 22 languages.

The whole portfolio of Eurobitume’s HSE information, advice and guidance can be accessed from the HSE drop-down tab on our website. All of Eurobitume‘s HSE guidance and advice documents can be viewed by visiting the Publications page and may be downloaded from there.


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