When storing materials in the workplace, workers must take certain precautions to minimize the risk of injury. Unfortunately, many workers turn a blind eye to the nuances of material storage, assuming it poses no concern to them. It’s not until an incident actually occurs that they realize the importance of proper material handling storage practices.
What Materials are Being Stored?
Requirements for material storage varies depending on the material. For storing flammable liquids, for instance, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). allows the use of either a portable tank or a safety can. This is done to prevent fires and explosions via combustion.
“There are two primary hazards associated with flammable and combustible liquids: explosion and fire. In order to prevent these hazards, this standard addresses the primary concerns of: design and construction, ventilation, ignition sources, and storage,” wrote OSHA on its webpage about flammable liquids.
Keep Storage Areas Clear and Free of Obstruction
Did you know that slip, trips and falls are responsible for 15% of all work-related accidental deaths, which is only second to motor vehicle accidents? Areas in which materials are stored should be kept clear and free of obstruction. Whether it’s a box, pallet, tool, or heavy equipment, all items should be removed from the floor to reduce the risk of a slip-and-fall accident.
Clean Spilled Liquids
In addition to keeping storage areas clean, workers should also clean up any spilled liquids in a timely manner. Even if the floor is free of obstruction, something as otherwise simple as a cup of spilled water can create a dangerous scenario for workers. If a worker happens to step on the liquid, he or she could slip and fall, placing them at risk for serious injury.
Lumber that’s stacked too high may also contribute to worker injury, due to the increased risk of it tipping it and falling. According to OSHA, lumber should be stacked no more than 16 feet tall when it’s being handled manually. If the lumber is being handled using a forklift or some other type machinery/equipment, it should be stacked no more than 20 feet tall.
Preparing Lumber for Storage
Before storing lumber, workers should remove any and all nails. A protruding nail may act as a deadly weapon if it happens to fall on an unsuspecting worker. This is why OSHA recommends removing all lumber before stacking them for storage.