The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor, regulates the storage and labeling of diesel fuel and other hazardous materials. Gas has a flashpoint of minus 45 degrees F. This is the lowest possible temperature at which it vaporizes into an ignitable mixture, in which case a fire or explosion may occur. At 140 degrees F, diesel fuel has a much higher flashpoint than gas, which means it's not as easy to ignite, but is still a fire hazard. Improper storage or labeling of diesel fuel can result in fires, explosions or ground contamination, and jeopardize the health and safety of those around it.
OSHA Requirements for Storing Diesel Fuel
According to Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, small, portable safety containers, and underground and aboveground storage tanks are standard options for flammable liquids, like diesel fuel and petroleum products. A Department of Transportation-approved safety can or portable tank is allowed for holding up to five gallons of diesel fuel. It should have a flash-arresting screen, a lid that spring-closes, a spout cover to relieve internal pressure in the event of fire exposure, a sturdy base and a tight-fitting lid to prevent possible leaks. Cans for storing gas are color-coded — for diesel fuel, the color is yellow.
For larger quantities of diesel fuel, storage occurs in aboveground or underground tanks. If the tank is aboveground, it should be at least 40 feet from any building and rest on solid ground or on a firm foundation. A "no-smoking" sign should be in the vicinity of the tank, and the area around it should be free of weeds and debris. Underground tanks should be at least a foot from a building's foundation and three feet from any property lines, with vent outlets at least five feet from any nearby structure.
Diesel Fuel Tank Labeling Regulatory Requirements
The label on a container or tank should show compliance with requirements from the National Board of Boil and Pressure Vessel Inspectors, according to OSHA standard 1910.110. The label must specify:
- If the container is for storage aboveground or underground, and the type of hood used for installation in both instances.
- Trade name or name and address of the supplier.
- Water storage capacity in U.S. pounds or gallons.
- The p.s.i.g. pressure with these words: "This container shall not contain a product having a vapor pressure in excess of - p.s.i.g. at 100 deg. F."
- Its tare weight in pounds (another weight unit may apply for containers with a water capacity of less than 300 pounds).
- Maximum level of filling when the diesel liquid is between 20 and 130 degrees F. except on containers that have a maximum level or weight indicator. Markings should be in increments of 20 degrees F and may be on the liquid level gauging device.
- The outside surface area of the tank should show its square-foot measurement.
Labeling should be on a metal plate attached to the fuel container and, after installation, should remain visible. If there are other combustible liquids in the same area as the diesel fuel, their containers should also show clear markings.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.