Metal fabrication: Improving safety through storage area layout and design

Guidance for employers on the use of storage area layout and design to eliminate or reduce workplace health and safety risks in the metal fabrication industry.

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Legal Duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must provide and maintain for employees a working environment that is safe and without risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Storage location

Ensure there is sufficient storage space for all materials, machinery or tools used during production.

Ensure storage areas are clearly marked and materials, machinery or tools stay within the storage area when not in use.

Yellow lines clearly mark the separation between walkways and storage areas.
Image 1: Yellow lines in use to clearly separate storage areas from pathways.

Store materials delivered to the workplace near the start of the production process.

Store materials used throughout the manufacturing process close to where they will be used.

physical barriers used in conjunction with yellow lines to clearly mark the separation between walkways and storage areas.
Image 2: Storage area is close to work bench and physical barriers are used to keep stored materials in designated area.

Ensure dangerous goods and hazardous substances are stored securely with appropriate signage.

Gas cylinders are kept secure in fenced off storage areas.
Image 3: Gas cylinders stored securely with appropriate signage.

Ensure there is adequate lighting in storage areas so employees can clearly see pathways, materials and any obstacles or trip hazards.

Ensure storage areas have adequate space for employees to access and move materials (including space for mechanical handling equipment such as bridge and gantry cranes or forklifts).

Develop and implement a traffic management plan for where people and powered mobile plant (for example, forklifts) require access to storage areas.

Regularly monitor and review storage areas to ensure they are kept clean and organised to prevent slips, trips and falls.

Neat and tidy storage area for large and long items like steel girders.
Image 4: Stored materials are kept neat and tidy.

Storage types

Ensure the type of storage used is appropriate for the storage area space and the materials, machinery or tools being stored. The storage selected should also consider the type of mechanical handling equipment used to transport the items. Examples of storage types are shown in the 3 images below.

When selecting storage type, consider the way materials are used in the workplace. If a product is used frequently, store it in the employees best working zone - the area between the shoulders and knees.

A tiered trolley designed for storing and moving long metal items safely
Image 5: Suitable storage and stacking solutions to improve safety in the workplace.
Suitable storage and stacking solutions to improve safety in the workplace.
Image 6: Vertical racking for large metal sheeting and similar items.
Suitable storage and stacking solutions to improve safety in the workplace.
Image 7: Vertical tiered storage solution providing safe and convenient access.

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