Storage of flammable liquid guide

Safe Work Australia has published a guide on the storage of flammable liquids.

The guide is for small to medium sized businesses and describes the risks of flammable liquids and explains, step by step, how to manage those risks.

This includes:

  • working out how flammable the chemicals you store are
  • which other chemicals they’re safe to be around
  • how to make sure there is proper ventilation, and
  • ensuring you have the correct fire-fighting equipment.

The guide also includes an example of a business that uses and stores flammable liquids, and provides advice about workplace placarding for businesses storing large quantities of flammable liquids.

The guide was developed in consultation with representatives from work health and safety regulators, unions and industry groups.

Controlling risks

A thorough risk assessment must be conducted for all processes related to the manufacture and storage of flammable liquids such as ethanol. This must include temporary storage of flammable liquids and consideration of likely ignition sources, such as welding, grinding and other hot work, which could cause flammable vapours to ignite.

The risk assessment must be reviewed immediately if there is a change to the type, quantity or usage of flammable liquids on site. For example, the seasonal use of ethanol for the fortification of wine will need to be included in the risk assessment. The bulk storage and transport of ethanol (commonly known as SVR, Wine Spirit or Grape Spirit) at wineries carries an associated risk of fire and explosion.

Safety procedures and any resulting changes must be communicated to all workers at the site. This includes drivers delivering products, such as ethanol, who must also comply with the requirements of the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail (ADG Code) for the transfer of flammable liquids, and any contract workers who attend the site to perform work.

The following risk control measures should be integral to a risk management plan to minimise the risk of fire and explosion:

Storage and labelling

  • Flammable liquids should be stored in compliant containers and facilities according to Australian Standard AS1940: The storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids.
  • Flammable liquid storage areas should be clearly marked with warnings and signs.
  • Flammable liquid containers and tanks should be clearly and correctly labelled.
  • Pipes, hoses, pumps, valves and heaters should be clearly labelled for identification.
  • The area around storage and processing should be kept free of combustible materials.


  • Adequate natural cross-flow ventilation should be maintained in buildings that involve storage or processing of flammable liquids. If adequate natural ventilation cannot be achieved, an intrinsically safe mechanical method of ventilation may be required.
  • Decanting of flammable liquids should be carried out in a well-ventilated area.

Hot work

  • Any hot work and smoking restriction zones should be clearly identified and sign-posted, and strictly enforced, including zones restricting mechanical grinding / cutting and other ignition sources. Refer to Australian Standard AS60079: Classification of hazardous areas. Examples of area classification – Flammable liquids for further guidance.
  • Hot work such as welding or oxy-cutting should be authorised by work permit and carried out in accordance with the Code of Practice – Welding Processes, which lists comprehensive fire and explosion precautions.
  • Empty containers must be free of any flammable or hazardous residues or vapours before work is carried out.

Fire safety

  • Fire safety equipment should be provided and maintained in accordance with the requirements of AS1940 (e.g. alarm systems, fire extinguishers, hydrants, hoses, fire blankets).


  • Workers should be instructed and trained in the storage and handling of dangerous goods, the emergency plan and the use of safety equipment.
  • Refresher training should be conducted on a regular basis and updated as necessary.

Deliveries and transfers

  • The bulk transfer of dangerous goods must be carried out in accordance with Chapter 10.2 of the ADG Code.
  • Persons engaged in transfer of bulk dangerous goods must ensure that recipient tanks are properly marked.

Further information