Farm chemical transport, storage, mixing and disposal

Before you transport, store or handle a chemical product, always read and follow the directions on the label and Safety Data Sheet (SDS).

Use the personal protective equipment (PPE) listed on the product label and ensure all PPE is in good condition.

Pay particular attention to the chemical's compatibility with other chemicals.

Purchasing chemicals

When buying chemicals:

  • only purchase the amount of chemical you need
  • estimate the quantity required for the job before visiting your chemical reseller
  • check if the chemical has an expiry date
  • make sure that the chemical is used before the expiry date.

Excess chemical must be stored or disposed of safely.

Transportation of chemicals

Take great care when transporting any chemical product to avoid spills and other accidents. Where possible, have products delivered to the location where you will be using them.

If you must pick up chemicals yourself using a vehicle:

  • securely stow chemicals in a separate compartment from passengers, food, stockfeed and fertiliser (the boot of a car and the cargo area of a station wagon are not separate compartments)
  • ensure containers are properly packaged to avoid breakage
  • display dangerous goods hazard symbols or class labels and hazchem signs as required.

Visit WorkSafe Victoria for more information.

Storage and possession of chemicals

Chemical containers and drums locked in steel mesh door cabinets

Storing agricultural chemicals correctly helps to prolong their shelf life and protect people, animals and the environment. Follow the storage directions on the chemical product labels and SDS.

Chemicals must be:

If storing small quantities of chemicals, you should:

  • maintain a list of all chemicals kept in storage
  • store chemicals in a cool, well- ventilated area that is away from direct sunlight (such as a shed), lockable, has an impervious (chemical-proof) floor and shelving and is bunded to contain spills
  • avoid stockpiling chemicals by purchasing them only as needed
  • store chemicals in their original labelled containers (if labels come off, re-label the container)
  • keep all SDS in a register nearby for easy access
  • never store chemicals in food or drink containers
  • separate incompatible or different chemical types to avoid cross- contamination
  • never store chemicals with seeds, fertilisers, protective clothing or stockfeed
  • ensure running water, first aid and other facilities as required by the SDS are available.

If you store chemicals that are classified as dangerous goods in large quantities, there are special storage requirements under the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2012 that apply.

See the Code of practice: The storage and handling of dangerous goods or contact WorkSafe Victoria for information and advice about the Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations.

For further information on chemical storage, including construction requirements and personal safety considerations: On farm pesticide storage (minor storage) publication.

Prohibited chemicals

You must not possess an agricultural chemical product that contains any of the following:

  • arsenic (other than arsenic used to treat wood)
  • fenthion
  • fenthion-ethyl
  • parathion
  • parathion-ethyl
  • parathion-methyl
  • strychnine.

Possession of these chemicals is allowed if they are being stored at a facility for disposal, are in transit to a facility for disposal, or where there is an applicable permit.

Decanting and mixing

Decanting and mixing chemicals poses the highest risk to handlers because chemicals are usually in concentrated form. The site where chemicals are mixed and loaded before application is also at risk of contamination from spills.

When choosing a mixing site:

  • Choose a mixing site that is away from people, animals and stockfeed.
  • Never eat, drink or smoke when mixing chemicals and don't allow children or unauthorised persons near the mixing operation.
  • The mixing site must be well ventilated, have good lighting and be set up to prevent any chemicals from draining into waterways or sewers.
  • There needs to be a personal wash-down facility on the mixing site, with a ready supply of clean water and soap.

Only mix as much chemical as you need for immediate use. Farm chemicals should be decanted in a way that minimises the risk of the handlers coming into contact with chemicals.

Chemicals designated as 'hazardous substances' are not permitted to be decanted unless the original label is attached to the new container. Wherever possible, use closed-tank mixing systems to fill application equipment. Take precautions to minimise the risk of spillage.

Hoses and pipes used to fill the spray tank with water should be fitted with a non-return valve, particularly if the hose is submerged while filling. This will prevent siphoning back from the tank into the water source if the supply is interrupted. Agitation should be sufficient to keep farm chemicals thoroughly mixed and suspended.

Triple rinse empty containers and drain rinse water into the spray tank.

Cleaning up chemicals

Thoroughly clean all mixing, spraying and personal protective equipment as described on the product label directions.

Wash hands, arms and face thoroughly with soap and water:

  • after using a chemical
  • before eating, drinking or smoking.

Shower as soon as possible. Wash work clothes separately or dispose of them appropriately.

Disposing of chemicals

Empty chemical containers and unwanted chemicals must be disposed of correctly. Follow the product label instructions.

Concentrated chemicals should never be disposed of on-farm. Disposal must be carried out by a licensed waste disposal company or chemical collection program.

To dispose of unwanted farm chemicals, visit ChemClear or call 1800 008 182.

Label the product for disposal and store it securely away until it is able to be collected for disposal.

Used containersEmpty drums taken for disposal.

All containers should be emptied, triple rinsed and punctured through the lid opening and out the bottom before disposal.

Container disposal methods include:

  • returning refillable containers to the chemical reseller
  • disposing of the container through a commercial disposal program that collects and recycles empty and clean chemical containers (such as drumMUSTER — phone 1800 008 707 or contact your local council)
  • disposing of containers at an approved municipal landfill tip.

Rinse water

Rinse and washdown water should be disposed of following Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) guidelines. All empty chemical containers should be triple rinsed directly into the spray tank.

If this isn't possible, rinse water should be applied to land in an area that will not contaminate the environment or affect people, livestock or produce. Do not allow any contaminated water or chemical to drain into ground water, storm drains, sewers or other water supplies.

Applying leftover spray mix to the same crop runs the risk of causing crop damage, unacceptably high residues and loss of efficacy.

Page last updated: 22 Feb 2024