Great Plains Industries, Inc.

A Guide to Fuel Transfer and Fuel Storage on Construction Sites: OSHA Requirements

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Courtesy of Great Plains Industries, Inc.

Storing fuel on-site is a convenient option but there are specific requirements and regulations that you are required by law to follow regarding fuel storage on construction sites. Risks significantly increase when you incorrectly store and transfer fuel. It’s a fire hazard and could result in property damage, injury, or fatalities.

The aim of this guide is to give you a summary of the OSHA Guidelines for fuel storage and handling. These are legal guidelines and all construction sites must adhere to them to ensure the safety of all workers and residents. Here is a breakdown of the guidelines for fuel storage and transfer on construction sites.

OSHA Guidelines for Fuel Storage

These are requirements for the storage of flammable and combustible liquids such as gasoline or diesel as outlined by OSHA. Here is a summary of the laws in place for storing fuel in containers or a  fuel tank on construction sites.

  • Only approved containers and portable tanks can be used to store flammable liquids.
    • This means safety cans or containers need to be approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
  • For safety reasons, only approved closed containers of a maximum capacity of five gallons can be used.
  • The containers must be designed so that they will safely relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure.
  • Other safety features the containers must have are a flash-arresting screen, spring-closing lid, and spout cover.
  • The equipment can only be “approved” by certain bodies, such as a nationally recognized testing laboratory, for example, Factory Mutual Engineering Corp, or Underwriters’ Laboratory Inc., or Federal agencies such as Bureau of Mines or U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Transfer of flammable liquids from one storage container to another must only be done when containers are electrically interconnected. This rule only applies to the direct transfer of flammable and combustible liquids between storage containers, and not for refueling or final use. Different guidelines apply for handling liquids at point of final use (see below).

Storage tanks also have to be marked with the name of the fuel contents, and a six-inch high, legible sign saying “FLAMMABLE – KEEP FIRE AND FLAME AWAY”. This is a requirement by law and if it’s not labeled, you will be liable for any damages. Tank saddles are also a legal requirement. These ensure the tank is protected against corrosion.

Other Considerations

Fuel Tank Refills – Use a tank that is suitable for outdoor use and has an Underwriters Listed (UL) stamp. Tanks of this nature can hold large supplies of fuel, for up to weeks or even months. Therefore, keeping refills to a minimum reduces risks of spillage, leaks, and fire. Allow space for expansion so never refill tanks more than 95% of their capacity.

Fuel Tank Location – Tanks should be installed in an east-west orientation to avoid as much sunlight as possible. They should be placed on a high well-drained site, a minimum of 40 feet from any buildings, water tributary, or combustible materials, for safety reasons. Ensure the storage area is free of weeds and foliage and this is also a fire hazard. Tanks must be kept away from any risk of ignition. No welding or cutting with torches can go on nearby. If this type of work is expected then it’s not a safe area to store fuel.

OSHA Guidelines for Fuel Transfer

These OSHA safety guidelines are for the transfer of flammable and combustible liquids intended for end-use, when refueling for example, or any other fuel transfer. It’s important to follow these carefully when dealing with fuel storage on construction sites.

  • Flammable and combustible liquids should always be kept in approved storage containers when not in use.
  • Any leakage or spillage should be disposed of quickly and with caution.
  • If you intend to use flammable liquids, ensure there are no open flames or other sources of ignition within 50 feet of operation.
    • The only exception to this measurement is if conditions warrant greater clearance.
  • To transfer fuel, it’s critical that all tank trucks comply with the requirements covered in the Standards for Tank Vehicles for Flammable and Combustible Liquids.
  • The hose and nozzle type also need to be approved. The nozzle, in particular, must be an automatic-closing type, without a latch open device.
  • Underground tanks must not be abandoned at any point.
  • All switches on dispensing devices should be clearly identified and provided at a remote location. This allows you to switch off all the power to these devices from a safe location in the event of an emergency.
  • Absolutely no smoking or open flames near fuel is allowed. This includes areas where fuel is received or dispensed.
  • You must ensure all “no smoking” signs are clearly visible and legible.
  • The motors of all equipment being fueled must be shut down for the entirety of the process.
  • You must have at least one fire extinguisher within 75 feet of each pump, dispenser, underground fill pipe opening, and lubrication in the area. The fire extinguisher must have a rating of no less than 20-B:C.

These guidelines must be followed by all employees on the site. Fuel storage and transfer on construction sites can be a fire hazard and could cause an explosion if the proper safety guidelines are not complied with. Here are some more safety tips for storing your diesel.

Fuel Transfer Pumps for Construction Sites

GPI offers a variety of fuel transfer pumps that meet OSHA requirements for fuel transfer and are cycle tested to exceed industry standards.

GPI mobile pump options for construction sites include:

PRO20-012AD – This 12 V DC has the capacity to pump 20 GPM and withstand extreme temperatures from -40°F to 125°F. This portable pump transfers gasoline (up to 15% alcohol blends such as E15), diesel fuel (up to 20% biodiesel blends such as B20), and kerosene.

PRO25-012AD – The PRO25 12V DC fuel transfer pump cranks out 25 GPM and can operate efficiently in temperatures between -20°F TO 125°F. This pump is intended for the transfer of gasoline (up to 15% alcohol blends such as E-15), diesel fuel (up to 20% biodiesel blends such as B20), and kerosene.

If you follow the OSHA guidelines above and train all of your crew on the correct protocols for fuel storage and transfer, you will ensure a safe and compliant construction site. 

GPI pumps offer a variety of flow rates from 5 to 25 GPM. All of our pumps are constructed of all aluminum parts with powder-coated motor housings that resist corrosion and are designed to withstand the test of time. Click below to take a look at our products!

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