Petrochemical Storage & Handling

Storing and handling petrochemicals (fuels & oils) correctly greatly reduces any potential harm or loss to you, your family, your staff, your business and the environment.

This module deals with the specific legal requirements and best practice standards for the storage and handling of petrochemicals. In some cases, WHS Legislation relies on a Risk Management approach, rather than requiring specific practices be carried out. This means that hazards must be identified, the level of risk assessed and where necessary, appropriate controls put in place. While this allows a more flexible approach to managing hazards, finding the best controls and implementing them remains a challenge.

Once you have completed this module to at least Level 2, you will have achieved the following:

  • Assessed whether your fuel and oil storage tanks are correctly designed, installed and constructed and what further work (if any) is required;
  • Ensured your high risk petrochemical storages are adequately bunded to protect the surrounding environment from potential spills;
  • Prepared and displayed an emergency plan for your petrochemical storages and handling;
  • Ensured your petrochemical waste products are disposed of appropriately; and
  • Provided advice to your farm staff as to safe handling and storage of your fuel products


Key Area: On Farm Storage and Handling of Fuel and Lubricants

Fuels on farm are stored appropriately

Check List:

Level 1 Petrochemicals are stored in tanks designed and constructed for that purpose
Level 1 Where more than one tank containing the same fuel is installed at the same site they are separated appropriately
Level 1 Where both petrol and diesel tanks are located at the same site, they are separated appropriately
Level 1 Where tanks are located within a building there is sufficient ventilation
Level 1 Tanks are pinned or bolted to the support structure. The support structure is rigid and braced if required
Level 1 Tripod stands are not used for tanks greater than 2200 litres
Level 2 Tanks and supports are generally free from corrosion and rust
Level 2 Filling/dipping points are easy to reach, or can be accessed safely
Level 2 For bottom fill tanks, the fill point has a Kamlock fitting (with cap) and a gate valve to eliminate backflow
Level 2 The volume of liquid in the tank is able to be measured/ monitored using manual dipping
Level 3 Tanks are painted to protect against corrosion and reduce evaporation
Level 3 Tanks are earthed to dissipate static electricity
Level 3 Tanks are secured against unauthorised access
Level 3 All tanks with a capacity of 10 000L or greater are bottom fill
Level 3 Most tanks have a sight tube with maximum fill level marked in order to measure/monitor the volume of liquid in the tank
Level 3 A record of fuel use is kept for all tanks on farm to assist in determining efficiency calculations or unauthorised access
Level 3 Service tanks are as close to the engine as possible and are fitted with an over-fill shutoff device
Level 3 Large tanks located in high traffic areas (e.g. around work sheds) are protected from impact by bollards, bunding walls or other structures
Level 3 A risk assessment is conducted annually and documented on all tanks
Level 3 An inline restrictor valve is installed to reduce the loss of fuel in the event of a broken line

Bulk fuel tanks are appropriately located on farm

Check List:

Level 1 All petrochemical storage tanks are a safe distance from houses, the property boundary, workshops and offices  
Level 1 All petrochemical storage tanks are a safe distance from other chemical storage areas including pesticides, fertilizers and domestic or industrial gas cylinders
Level 1 Storage tanks used at or near bodies of water are set back where possible and/or potential spills are prevented from reaching the water
Level 2 Tanks are located on level sites that allow safe access for delivery tankers, farm vehicles and machinery
Level 2 Tanks are located on sites that are not prone to flooding, or are protected from flood waters (e.g. by height)
Level 2 Petrochemical tanks are not sited on highly permeable sandy soils or where a high water table exists. If unavoidable, impermeable bunding is present
Level 3 The location of all fixed fuel storage facilities has been recorded on a farm map

Mobile fuel tanks are appropriately handled on farm

Check List:

Level 1 Mobile fuel tanks are free from defects and maintained in good condition to reduce the risk of an accident
Level 1 Mobile fuel tanks are to be parked at least 15 metres from buildings, storage areas or amenities.
Level 1 Mobile tanks containing Flammable Liquid 3 (FL3) must be parked at least 8 metres from another mobile tank containing dangerous goods
Level 2 Mobile fuel tanks are secured to the vehicle or trailer to prevent movement

Lubricants are appropriately stored on farm

Check List:

Level 1 Lubricants are separated by distance from ignition sources such as hot work and other flammable and combustible materials
Level 2 Lubricants are stored on bunded concrete or other impervious material floor to assist containment in the event of a spill
Level 2 Storage location of lubricants allows for the safe manual handling of drums
Level 3 Lubricants are stored in a separate bunded shed or structure

Waste petrochemicals are appropriately stored and disposed

Check List:

Level 1 Most used/waste oil is stored for collection by a licensed waste oil collector
Level 1 Waste oil is stored in an area located away from sensitive areas and ignition sources
Level 1 Waste oil is stored in an area where spills can be contained
Level 1 Empty oil drums are stored securely until they can be disposed of or recycled
Level 1 Empty fuel tanks and drums are disposed of appropriately
Level 2 Waste oil storage containers are checked regularly for leaks and replaced if required
Level 2 Used oil filters are drained before being stored and disposed of appropriately
Level 3 Waste oil is stored in a bunded or purpose built area
Level 3 Reusable drums and or returnable containers are used to purchase oil

Key Area: Workplace Safety

Workplace safety is managed appropriately on farm

Check List:

Level 1 All workers are made aware of the hazards and safety precautions for handling petrochemicals
Level 1 Where large tanks of petrol (greater than 5000 L), diesel (greater than 10 000 L), or engine oil (greater than 10 000 L) exist, all personnel employed on the premises have been appropriately trained in safety, with records kept
Level 1 Current Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are available for all fuel and lubricants stored
Level 1 A register is kept of all fuels stored on farm
Level 1 Fuel storage areas are kept free from ignition sources
Level 1 Fuel storage areas are kept free of fire hazards
Level 2 Access to fuel bowsers/pumps is controlled e.g. locked
Level 2 Vehicle engines are switched off whenever a fuel storage tank or bowser is in use. Tanks and vehicles are attended during filling
Level 2 Machinery is not serviced during filling.
Level 2 Appropriate containers with correct labelling and safety directions are used when decanting bulk to carry or store fuel
Level 2 Drums and shuttles are checked for leaks before transporting, are properly secured and are transported only in the back of an open vehicle or trailer
Level 3 A Standard Operating Procedure for handling petrochemicals has been developed for the farm and all staff are aware of it

There are appropriate petrochemical emergency procedures in place

Check List:

Level 1

A written emergency plan has been prepared and includes:

  • Action to be taken in the event of a fire;
  • Action to be taken in the event of a large fuel spill;
  • Responsibilities for contacting emergency services;
  • Contact numbers for emergency services and farm management;
  • Directions to the storage facility for emergency services;
  • The location of emergency equipment
Level 1 All staff are aware of the emergency plan and what to do in the event of a fire / spill
Level 1 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available for handling a petrochemical spill
Level 1 A spill kit is available for use in the event of a spill
Level 1 Powder-type fire extinguishers are accessible for each above ground fuel storage tank
Level 1 Fire extinguishers are checked every 6 months to ensure they are in working order, with maintenance records kept
Level 1 A maintenance/service register is kept for all fire extinguishers on farm
Level 1 An emergency drill is conducted at least annually to raise staff awareness of what to do in the event of an emergency
Level 2 The emergency plan is displayed in a prominent position which is accessible to all staff
Level 3 Instruction on the correct use of fire extinguishers is included in staff induction

There is appropriate petrochemical signage on farm

Check List:

Level 1 All tanks are signed satisfying the relevant QLD or NSW Dangerous Goods Regulations
Level 2 The waste oil storage area and/or drums are clearly labelled 'waste oil'

Spills on farm are contained appropriately

Check List:

Level 1 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available and accessible for handling a petrochemical spill
Level 1 A spill kit is available and accessible for use in the event of a spill
Level 1 All large tanks of petrol (greater than 5000 L), diesel (greater than 10 000 L), or engine oil (greater than 10 000 L) are bunded to contain at least the volume of the tank, or the volume of the largest tank if more than one tank is kept at the site
Level 1 For smaller tanks and mobile tanks, spills are controlled by the use of ground slope, diversion channels, low bunds, kerbing
Level 1 Spills can be safely drained from the area

All licensing and notification requirements are met

Check List:

Level 1 In NSW the location and details of all major hazard facilities are reported to emergency services