Understanding risk assessment and tank storage


Risk assessment is key to maintaining the safe storage of flammable liquids in tanks. To help businesses achieve this, safety requirements are made under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations where flammable liquids are intentionally present in the workplace.

In addition, specific directions exist under regulation 5 of DSEAR. These are designed to help you and your site:

  • Identify potential activities that may pose risk to your employees and others
  • Determine the measures to be taken to eliminate or reduce these risks so far as reasonably practicable

The risk assessment required under DSEAR may be carried out as part of the risk assessment requirements of the Management Regulations and general fire safety legislation. This follows the same approach as that used in health and safety legislation.

In line with the need to take account of the presence of flammable liquids in the general fire safety risk assessment, you may find it of benefit to carry out the required risk assessments as a consolidated exercise.

A risk assessment should be conducted regardless of the quantity of flammable liquids present at the workplace. This is because it will enable you to decide whether existing measures are sufficient or, likewise, whether any additional controls or precautions are necessary.

Alongside assessing normal activities within the workplace, you will also need to assess non-routine activities. These, for instance, might include:

  • Maintenance work where there is often a higher potential for fire and explosion incidents to occur

If no risk to safety is detected from fires and explosions: no further action is needed.
If they are detected: you must consider what you need to do to comply fully with the requirements of DSEAR.

Carrying out a risk assessment

The assessment should factor in risks arising from tank contents, associated operational activities and external sources. The aims of the assessment are to determine:

  • How the flammable liquid could be released
  • The consequences of such a release
  • How such a release could be ignited
  • What external risks are present
  • How to mitigate the consequences of a release

Factors which should be considered when assessing a storage installation include:

  • Storage capacity
  • Location of the tank, in relation to site boundaries, buildings, process areas and fixed sources of ignition
  • Design standards for the installation
  • Quantities and locations of other flammable liquids
  • Quantities and locations of other dangerous substances
  • Tank contents and any likely residues
  • Activities on adjacent premises
  • Training and competence of site operatives
  • Supervision of staff
  • Frequency of deliveries
  • Loading and unloading operations
  • Inspection and maintenance
  • The surrounding environment

Download the HSE’s guidance on the storage of flammable liquids in tanks

Need help with risk assessment?

If you need more information and guidance on risk assessment in the tank storage sector, Reynolds Training Services is standing by to help.


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