Workers in the construction industry have a high risk of accidents and injuries. Although falls are probably the number one risk, materials which are not stored properly can be hazardous to workers and damage expensive materials. Materials which are stacked improperly can collapse on an employee and cause fractures. Items which are too heavy to carry correctly can cause strains and sprains. Falling materials can cause bruises or cuts.
In Standard 1910.176(b), OSHA says this about secure storage: “Storage of material shall not create a hazard. Bags, containers, bundles, etc., stored in tiers shall be stacked, blocked, interlocked and limited in height so that they are stable and secure against sliding or collapse.” This is a good rule and there are other important safety measures to remember.
Construction safety begins at the top. Employers have to take the lead to make sure employees know how to handle and store material safely. Training needs to be offered to all employees responsible for stacking and storing materials. Employees should also know, understand and comply with all federal and state OSHA requirements. There should also be a procedure in place to handle concerns or problems with material handling. Employers should make sure employees have protective equipment, such as:
- Gloves or hand protectors
- Steel-toed safety boots
- Handles and holders to move loads
- Eye protection when opening a wire-bound box
- Band cutter to break down packaging materials
- Hoppers to store debris and broken down packaging materials
- Tools for moving and lifting heavy or large loads
Safe Stacking and Storage Rules
No matter what type of material is being stacked, there are standard guidelines which can help employees stay safe:
- Don’t block emergency exits or equipment, such as fire alarms, when stacking materials
- Make sure that there is sufficient clearance around stacks to have easy access
- Observe stacking limitations, the height to base ratio should not exceed 3:1
- Make sure stacks are self-supporting and stable
- Leave clearance between stacks and the heating pipes, lights and sprinkler heads
Boxes should be placed on a pallet for better security and stability. Banding the boxes together with shrink wrap or banding increases stability too. Bags, sacks and bundled materials should not be stacked closer than 18 inches to the walls or sprinklers. Interlock the rows for more security and stability.
Pipes, poles, and bars have their own hazards and need to be carefully stacked, stored and secured. The racks that store these materials should not face the main aisles, as this creates hazards to workers who are removing other supplies. Do not stack or store pipes in a way that could cause them to spread or tilt, unless the materials are in racks.
Methods for Handling Materials
Not only do employees have to know how to stack materials safely, they should also have the knowledge to protect themselves. Here are some key steps to take before stacking or storing materials:
- Check the material for nails, jagged edges, slippery surfaces or other protruding objects
- Make sure a good grip can be obtained on the object before moving
- Watch for pinch points, where fingers might be squished between two heavy objects
- Keep hands away from the ends of long objects, such as lumber or pipe, to prevent injuries and pinching
- Keep hands and gloves free of oil or grease
- Wipe off objects before handling or storing if the item is wet or oily
Following these safety rules will help your company stay in line with OSHA standards and protect your employees from injuries.
Roura has been providing hoppers for material handling industry for more than 100 years. We offer A-frames, slab racks and remnant racks to store stone materials safely. Our company can custom design and manufacture equipment to keep your worksite safe.
Contact us for more information about hoppers or rotator boxes.