Keeping above ground fuel tanks safe

This fact sheet gives tips about keeping your above ground fuel tanks safe and in good working order.



On your farm you need to make sure that above ground fuel tanks are safe and maintained. This includes making sure accessing the tank, fuelling and refuelling activities can be done safely.

Above ground fuel tanks can become unsafe when the tank or its structure (including height access systems) are impacted by a vehicle, plant or farm machinery, become damaged or severely corroded. Spills or leaks from fuel tanks can also present health, safety and environmental hazards.

A simple way to maintain tank safety is to regularly check the tank, supporting structure and the surrounding area.

Check your tank is safe

Overhead tank needs to checked for safety
Figure 1. Overhead tank

What to check on your tank

  • Safety handrails are installed around the landing and are in good condition.
  • Tank is free from rust and damage.
  • Tank is secured to the support structure.
  • Ladder is safe and secured, all rungs are in working order and no signs of severe corrosion.
  • The air vent is clear of obstructions.
  • Tank is clearly labelled identifying the contents and quantity.
  • Isolation valve is operating on tank.
  • Hose and fittings are in good working order, with no leaks.
  • The proper hose nozzle with trigger valve mechanism is installed and in good working order.
  • All bracing is present and securely attached.
  • Legs and bracing are straight and in good condition, no signs of severe corrosion.

Impact protection and spill containment

Impact protection

Tanks must be protected from impact by vehicles and farming equipment. This reduces the chance of someone running into and damaging your tank by locating the tank away from areas of high traffic.

If vehicles need to come close to the tank (eg for fuelling or refuelling) impact protection such as railings, bollards should be installed.

Spill containment

Prevent fuel from dripping, leaking or spilling onto the ground, your farm land or into waterways by ensuring spill containment (such as concrete pads, or troughs or bunding) is installed.

Be sure that the spill containment can contain the fuel that may spill and any spilt dangerous goods do not mix with other dangerous goods or hazardous substances that are not compatible. This is important during fuelling and refuelling activities, as the spillage can contaminate soil, waterways and drains.

You must also have equipment and materials to clean up fuel escapes, spills or leaks kept on your farm, and accessible to persons on the farm at all times.

If you don’t have a spill containment system, you must install a system.

Note: Bunding is the system most used for containing fuel spillages. It can be retrofitted to existing buildings and outdoor installations, concrete or earth bunding (temporary berm or ridge of compacted earth) are often used.

Examples of impact protection and spill containment

Metal bollards concreted into place in a bright colour for impact protection for the tank.
Metal bollards concreted into place in a bright colour for impact protection for the tank.
Consider concrete or earth bunding depending on your circumstances.
Consider concrete or earth bunding depending on your circumstances.

Other things to consider

  • Keep rubbish and vegetation, or any possible ignition sources, away from the tank and its structure.
  • Check there is a safe way for trucks that are delivering fuel or refuelling, to access the tank.
  • Anchor your tank if you are in a flood-prone area.
  • Use a lockable nozzle to prevent fuel theft and unauthorised access.
  • Having a fire protection system, as well as other emergency preparation and response systems in place.

Fuel tanks storage and handling requirements vary depending on a number of factors including:

  • size of the tank
  • quantity of dangerous goods or hazardous substances stored across the site
  • fuel type being stored
  • location the fuel is stored

Note: Where dangerous goods quantities stored and handled on your farm exceed the manifest quantities you must notify WorkSafe.

More information

Consider also talking to your fuel supplier for safety advice, or email a dangerous goods expert [email protected].

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