Discussion groups come together for safe and compliant fuel storage sessions

During June, three Subtropical Dairy facilitated discussion groups participated in an online discussion to focus on safe and compliant fuel storage on dairy farms.  These three groups have been focusing on workplace health and safety to varying degrees over the last 12 months.  The three discussion groups have completed a number of modules out of the Dairy Australia Farm Safety Manual.

There is a significant amount of regulation regarding the management of hazardous chemicals on dairy farms, including fuels.  Most farms have some opportunities for improvement in the safe use and storage of chemicals and fuel, but lack clarity regarding the information available to make decisions around the balance between their legal obligations and what is reasonable and practicable on farm.  This online discussion was aimed at answering the specific questions farmers had on their own farms and enlisted the expertise of Brent Rushbrook, Lead Inspector (Plant) with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ). 

Diesel and unleaded petrol (ULP) must be located away from any sources of ignition, with ULP at least 15 metres away.  If ULP and diesel storage tanks are next to each other, they are considered as one storage and requirements for the ULP will apply.  The surrounds should be free of combustible material including grass, trees and timber for a radius of three metres. 

Bulk fuel storage should have spill containment, be protected from impacts and vehicle damage and also have secure and solid footings.  Overhead tanks with top fills are required to have working at heights safety measures in place.

A summary of the key discussion points covering safe fuel storage on farm:

  • Assess the amounts and types of fuel storage on farm.Ensure you are below manifest quantities (10,000 litres).There are special regulations managing the storage requirements of manifest quantities of fuel;
  • Ensure the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are available on farm and easily accessible.These SDSs will detail the storage and safety requirements for each hazardous chemical stored on farm;
  • Adequate, clear signage of vessels containing fuel and hazardous chemicals;
  • Ensure there is an up-to-date register of hazardous chemicals stored and used on farm;
  • When fuel storage is located within a structure, the structure must be made from non-combustible material. It also needs to be ventilated and away from ignition sources;
  • Is there a suitable form of spill containment under the fuel storage? In some cases, a dirt barricade may suffice.All spills need to be contained on-farm and away from any water courses;
  • Is there impact protection to avoid vehicle or plant collisions with the structure?Is speed managed in the vicinity of the storage?
  • Is the storage structurally sound with solid footings?

A good starting point for managing safe storage of hazardous chemicals and fuel on farm is the Farm Chemicals module of the Dairy Australia farm Safety Manual - http://www.thepeopleindairy.com.au/farm-safety/manual.  This module steps farmers through a risk assessment and action plan for safe chemical storage on farm and also provides a list of resources for further information.  Workplace Health and Safety Queensland - https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/agriculture and Workplace Health and Safety NSW - https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/your-industry/agriculture,-forestry-and-fishing also have excellent resources available. 

Queensland and New South Wales have consistent legislation for Storage and Management of Hazardous Chemicals on farms. For more information or resources please contact your Regional Extension Officer.

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