Support centre

Claim Enquiries

Support Centre - Claim Enquiries Close

Most popular questions

Falls Prevention Above Ground Fuel Tanks

  • Document Type: Guidance Note
    Keycode: web only
    Industry: Farming, 
    Category: Falls Prevention, 
    Division Author: Manufacturing & Agriculture
    Publication Date: 06 June 2005
    Date First Published: 17 February 2005
    Summary: This guidance is intended for farmers and provides risk controls to prevent falling from above ground fuel tanks.

First issued: 1/9/2004

This guide is developed by WorkSafe in consultation with the Victorian Farmers Federation and the Australian Workers' Union.

Purpose of this Guide
This guide is designed to assist farmers to control the risk of falling from above ground fuel tanks on the farm.

Risk of Falling
Tasks that may expose people to the risk of falling from a fuel tank include filling the fuel tank, dispensing fuel or checking on fuel levels.

The most effective solution to reduce the risk of falling from a fuel tank is to have the tasks of filling the fuel tank, dispensing fuel and checking on fuel levels performed at the ground level. This can be achieved by:

  • relocating or installing the fuel tank to ground level and dispensing fuel with the aid of a pump.
  • installing external fuel gauges to avoid having to climb to determine the level of fuel in the fuel tank.

You need to make sure any modifications to the fuel tank maintain the intrinsic safety of the tank and are undertaken by a suitably qualified person using a safe work permit system.

If it is not practicable for the tasks of filling the fuel tank, dispensing fuel and checking on fuel levels to be performed at the ground level, then ensure that a permanently secured access ladder which complies with Australian Standard 1657 is installed to the fuel tank.

AS 1657 specifies that:

  • the access ladder has handrails at least 900mm above the work platform.
  • the work platform at the top of the ladder has a minimum width of 600mm and depth of 900mm and has toe boards and a mid rail at 450mm

Legal requirements
The Occupational Health and Safety (Prevention of Falls) Regulations 2003 require employers (including farmers) to:

  • identify any task that an employee or contractor is required to undertake involving a fall hazard (a fall of more than 2 metres).
  • assess the risk of a fall taking into account the nature and duration of the task, the physical surroundings in which the task is to be performed and the conditions during which the task is to be performed.
  • eliminate the risk or if that is not practicable reduce the risk so far as is practicable by arranging for the task to be undertaken:
    • from the ground or from a solid construction
    • if that is not practicable, using a passive fall prevention device eg temporary work platform, roof safety mesh or guard-railing
    • if that is not practicable, using a work positioning system eg industrial rope access, travel restraint or drainers hoist
    • if that is not practicable, using a fall injury prevention system eg safety net, catch platform or harness system
    • if that is not practicable, using a fixed or portable ladder or implementing an administrative control eg work procedures
  • make sure that any solution (risk control) that is used or is available for use to control the risk of a fall is properly maintained.
  • provide any employees or contractors who are required to undertake any task identified as involving a fall hazard with such information, instruction and training as is necessary to enable them to perform their work in a safe manner.

Acts and Regulations

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • Occupational Health and Safety (Prevention of Falls) Regulations 2003
  • Occupational Health and Safety (Plant) Regulations 1995

Acts and regulations are available from Information Victoria on 1300 366 356 or order online at

View the legislation at Victorian Law Today at

Standards Australia

  • AS 1657 - 1992 Fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders -- design, construction and installation

Copies of standards can be obtained by contacting Standards Australia on 1300 654 646 or by visiting the web site at

Further information

Note: This guidance material has been prepared using the best information available to WorkSafe Victoria. Any information about legislative obligations or responsibilities included in this material is only applicable to the circumstances described in the material. You should always check the legislation referred to in this material and make your own judgement about what action you may need to take to ensure you have complied with the law. Accordingly, the Victorian WorkCover Authority extends no warranties as to the suitability of the information for your specific circumstances.