Skip to content
Diesel Fuel Storage for Construction Sites: Best Practices and Safety Protocols

Diesel Fuel Storage for Construction Sites: Best Practices and Safety Protocols

An operator adding fuel to a piece of heavy equipment

Diesel Fuel Storage for Construction Sites: Best Practices and Safety Protocols

Reading time: 6 min

Construction crews rely on heavy equipment to complete projects on time, and heavy equipment runs on fuel. A steady supply of fuel to power machinery and vehicles is necessary on job sites of all sizes, making efficient and safe fuel storage methods a critical component of any project.

Not only does proper fuel storage ensure the seamless operation of construction equipment, but it also helps safeguard against hazards and environmental impacts that can arise from improper fuel handling. Improper fuel storage on construction sites can lead to a cascade of hazardous consequences such as fuel leaks, fires or even explosions.

In this article, we’ll explore the importance of safe and efficient fuel storage on construction sites. We’ll cover best practices and safety protocols that construction managers should follow to ensure the safety and success of their teams.

Methods of Fuel Storage

There are a few popular methods of fuel storage used on construction sites. The best method for your project will depend on several factors, including the duration of the job and its scale.

Fuel Tanks and Trailers

Fuel tanks and trailers are a popular choice for storing diesel fuel on construction sites. These can range from small, portable tanks to larger, stationary ones, and they are often equipped with pumps and meters for easy fuel dispensing.

Pros: These are convenient and portable, feature built-in pumping systems, and come in various sizes.

Cons: The initial purchase and maintenance costs of a fuel tank can be relatively high. Plus they require periodic inspections and compliance with regulations. In addition, there are the risks of fuel theft and vandalism.

Above-Ground Storage Tanks (ASTs)

Above-ground storage tanks are larger, stationary containers designed for long-term diesel fuel storage. They are typically placed on a concrete pad and come equipped with safety features like spill containment.

Pros: ASTs have a high storage capacity, are suitable for large construction projects, are in compliance with environmental regulations and safety standards and have a reduced risk of theft or vandalism due to their stationary nature

Cons: ASTs have limited portability, may require additional measures for fuel distribution and require periodic inspections.

Drums and Barrels

Smaller drums and barrels are used for short-term or moderate diesel fuel storage needs on construction sites. They are often more portable and easier to handle.

Pros: Drums and barrels are cost-effective for smaller projects or temporary storage needs. They’re portable and easy to transport around the site and require minimal upfront investment.

Cons: Drums and barrels have limited storage capacity, are at an increased risk of fuel contamination, and are less environmentally friendly due to increased waste from disposable containers

Determining the best method of fuel storage for your specific needs is a crucial decision that should be made thoughtfully. Several key factors to consider include:

  • Project size or duration
  • Budget
  • Accessibility and portability
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Security and theft prevention

By thoroughly evaluating each of these factors, you can make an informed decision that optimizes safety, compliance and cost-effectiveness.

Key Safety Protocols for Fuel Storage

Since fuel is highly flammable, it needs to be handled correctly to avoid accidents, such as fires or explosions. The risk of such accidents is so high that OSHA regulates how fuel must be stored to minimize risks to employee safety.

Here are some of the key OSHA requirements for diesel storage:

  • Secondary Containment: OSHA mandates the use of secondary containment systems to prevent fuel spills and leaks from contaminating the environment. This requirement helps mitigate the risk of soil and water pollution.
  • Labeling and Identification: OSHA requires clear labeling and identification of fuel storage containers to prevent accidental misuse or mixing of fuels. Proper labeling ensures that workers can quickly and accurately identify the contents, reducing the risk of mishaps and accidents.
  • Fire Safety Measures: OSHA regulations include guidelines for fire safety when storing diesel fuel. This includes maintaining adequate distances between fuel storage and potential ignition sources, such as open flames and electrical equipment.
  • Ventilation: Adequate ventilation is necessary to disperse any potential fuel vapors that may accumulate within storage areas. OSHA's ventilation requirements help reduce the risk of hazardous fumes and improve overall worker safety.
  • Grounding and Bonding: OSHA mandates grounding and bonding of fuel storage containers and equipment to prevent static electricity buildup, which can ignite flammable fuels.
  • Spill Response Plans: OSHA requires construction sites to have spill response plans in place. These plans outline the steps to take in the event of a fuel spill, including containment, cleanup procedures and reporting.
  • Training and Education: OSHA emphasizes the importance of proper training and education for workers involved in fuel storage and handling. Well-informed employees are less likely to make mistakes that can lead to accidents, injuries or environmental damage.

Failing to comply with regulations on diesel fuel storage can have significant negative consequences for construction companies. These include legal penalties, increased costs and health risks. To avoid these consequences, it is crucial to follow all applicable regulations regarding diesel fuel storage.

Preventing and Managing Fuel Leaks

Preventing and effectively managing fuel leaks is crucial to maintain crew safety on construction sites. Fuel leaks pose significant risks, including fire hazards, environmental contamination and health concerns for workers. 

To prevent fuel leaks, regular inspections of storage containers and associated equipment are essential. Ensure that all containers are properly maintained and any damaged or deteriorating components are promptly replaced. 

If a fuel leak is noticed from a storage container, immediate action is required. Isolate the leaking area, shut off the fuel source, and ventilate the area to disperse any fumes. Contain the spilled fuel with absorbent materials to prevent further spread. 

Environmental Impacts

Improper fuel storage on construction sites can have severe and far-reaching environmental impacts. Fuel spills or leaks from poorly maintained storage systems can contaminate the surrounding environment, posing significant risks to ecosystems and public health. 

Diesel fuel, in particular, contains hazardous chemicals that, if released, can infiltrate soil and groundwater, potentially affecting drinking water sources and aquatic life.

The best way to prevent these harmful impacts is through prioritizing leak prevention and containment, as well as properly training personnel to respond to leaks swiftly.

Final Thoughts

Following proper fuel storage protocols is essential to the success of medium and large construction projects. Managing the risks associated with fuel storage will help keep your employees safe and protect the environment from hazardous spills.

Back to Guides

Are you signed up for our newsletter?

We'll send you a monthly email covering everything from specialty parts to machine overviews, packed with tons of knowledge from our industry pros and no filler.


Building Blocks Blog
Previous article How to Prevent Rust and Corrosion on Heavy Construction Equipment
Next article The Best Equipment for Leveling Ground: Grading Tips & Best Practices