Pesticides - Guidance on Storing Pesticides for Farmers & Other Professional Users (HSE AIS16)

Guidance on Storing Pesticides for Farmers and Other professional Users

Agricultural Information Sheet No 16

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This information sheet provides guidance to professional users of pesticides on suitable standards for storage. By following it, professional users will help to ensure that they meet their duties under relevant legislation. It contains advice on:

  • fixed stores, including purpose-built stores, converted existing buildings or parts of existing buildings and small scale storage in cabinets, chests etc;
  • mobile stores providing short-term storage away from the home base in vehicles, on bowsers and sprayers etc;
  • storing small amounts of particular pesticides whose hazardous chemical properties require additional precautions to be taken.

It does not cover storing methyl bromide, storing pesticides by suppliers (which includes contractors who supply pesticides), nor transporting pesticides from suppliers to the end user. If you carry out any of these activities you should consult the DEFRA Code of Practice for suppliers of pesticides to agriculture, horticulture and forestry (the Yellow Code).

If you store flammable pesticides such as anti-fouling products, refer to HSE's guidance booklet The storage of flammable liquids in containers.

For the purposes of this information sheet 'professional user' means anyone who uses pesticides as part of their business or undertaking, whether as an employer or self-employed person.

Fixed storage

What are your storage needs?


  • The store needs to be large enough to hold your peak pesticide requirements, any part-used containers, and able to cope with stock being held over due to poor weather.
  • Estimate the likely total of stocks to be held at any one time - include pesticides such as slug pellets, rodenticides and wood treatment products.
  • Check if you need to make additional provision for storing any of the special classes of pesticides listed at the end of this sheet.
  • Consider the need to store other potentially harmful chemicals and allow for likely amounts.
  • Provide adequate storage for rinsed empty containers awaiting disposal.
  • Check what other facilities you may need to provide (e.g. storage for contaminated equipment, personal protective equipment, washing facilities etc.) by reading the code of practice relevant to your pesticide work (see 'Further reading').
  • Remember that if the store is too small it leaves staff working in cramped conditions, often having to move one product to get to another.


Before creating new storage check with:

  • your local authority planning department - you may need planning permission for your store;
  • the Environment Agency (EA) or in Scotland the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). You may be in an 'environmentally sensitive area' such as a groundwater protection zone or upstream of water supply catchment areas.

Site your store away from areas that present a risk of fire and at least four metres away from:

  • hay, straw, diesel, oils, paints, fertilisers, paper, wood stacks, gas containers and other combustible materials;
  • domestic dwellings or sources of ignition such as grain dryers or welding/grinders activities.

Check where any contaminated fire-fighting water will drain and:

  • do not site stores near to drains, watercourses, wells and boreholes or areas liable to flooding.

Help protect against harm to humans, animal health and the environment. 

Make sure that:

  • cabinet stores are not located in domestic dwellings, retail areas, staffrooms, offices or areas where human or animal food is stored or processed;
  • access to a pesticide store within a larger building is not through such areas;
  • all staff know what to do in the event of a chemical spillage or fire;
  • there is ready access for pesticide deliveries or the emergency services.

If an incident occurs, contain and absorb any spillage with inert absorbent materials or sand. Dispose of contaminated materials or liquids safely after having sought advice from the EA or SEPA.

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