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How To Improve Safety With Correct Material Handling And Storage On A Construction Site

We are all aware that construction sites are extremely fluid environments. They are associated with a great deal of movement, the presence of potentially dangerous machinery and the risk of injury if the correct safety protocols are not put in place. Still, some concerns are more apparent than others. One of the issues which is often left unattended until an accident takes place involves material handling and storage on construction site locations. How can you and your team improve existing on-site storage techniques? What key takeaway points should be adopted? In order to ensure the safety of employees as well as the general public, the information contained below should never be taken for granted. 

Designate Specific Storage Areas

On-site awareness is the first factor to address. It is important to allocate specific areas of a property to satisfy your storage requirements. Different zones can be used to address different types of waste such as:

  • Organic waste

  • Wood and metal

  • Glass

  • Chemicals such as solvents and cleaning agents

This will lead to a greater sense of organisation and employees can be made aware of where specific substances should be placed. Additionally, clearly mark these locations with the appropriate safety signage. 

Take Footpaths and High Areas of Traffic

Many injuries and accidents will result from materials that have been haphazardly stored in the wrong locations. One prime example can be seen in items that are placed within close proximity to walking paths or pedestrian routes (such as the side of a busy road). Whether referring to a trip, a fall or an item suddenly becoming dislodged from a stack, this mistake can lead to very serious consequences. Never store materials in areas that are prone to high levels of foot traffic. 

Addressing Hazardous Substances

There are very specific guidelines in the event that hazardous materials need to be stored on a construction site. These substances will need to be segregated away from other risk factors that increase the chances of an accident, a fire or an explosion. A handful of examples will help to highlight this point. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE): 

  • Incompatible substances (such as ammonia and chlorine) should never be stored together (1).

  • All materials must be properly labelled with the correct safety information.

  • Two inflammable substances must never be stored in the same location.

There are other recommendations specific to unique circumstances. For example, the HSE states that stacks of LPG cylinders should never exceed 30,000 kilograms in total weight (2). As many of these and other construction site storage rules can be quite specific, it is best to perform additional research or to consult with a professional. 

How to Correctly Store Materials at Height

Storage equipment safety protocols are not limited to ground levels. There can be many instances when materials need to be allocated at height for later retrieval. Common examples include pallets of aggregate, drums of exterior paint and containers of solvent. Certain policies must be put into place, as such items falling from significant heights can lead to injury or even death. All employees should be informed of the correct stacking procedures. Other safety measures such as guard rails, tie-down straps and the use of shrink-wrap may also be relevant. Finally, accessing these materials must incorporate the use of the proper ladders and similarly relevant equipment (such as a scissor lift).

Proactively Dealing with On-Site Deliveries

Deliveries can always present a problem on busy construction sites. Employees who are preoccupied or otherwise distracted may place potentially hazardous items in the wrong locations. Both workers and management alike need to be made aware of the correct policies so that a more proactive stance can be taken. Not only will this reduce the chances of an accident, but it saves time in regards to being forced to transport the very same materials at a later time.

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Above all, material handling and storage on construction site projects needs to embrace the notion of tidiness at all times. This is just as much of an accountability issue as it involves following the correct procedures. On-site workers should be encouraged to understand the risks involved with improper solutions and ineffective alternatives. Clean sites will adhere to relevant coding regulations and they can ensure that a project is completed within a timely fashion. 

If you require bespoke storage solutions for an upcoming project or should you wish to enhance your current levels of on-site safety, please contact a representative at Cross Plant Hire. We offer numerous solutions based around your requirements and we are more than pleased to explain our services in greater detail. 


1. http://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/sragtech/techmeassegregat.htm

2. http://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/sragtech/techmeascylinder.htm