Materials storage and waste management

What you need to do

The law says you must keep every part of your construction site in 'good order' and every place of work clean. The objective is to achieve what is usually called a good standard of 'housekeeping' across the site.

In addition, all contractors must plan, manage and monitor their work so it is carried safely and without risks to health. This includes careful planning on how the site will be kept tidy and housekeeping actively managed.

The standard of housekeeping you achieve on site will be affected by how effective you are at:

What you need to know

Each year around 1000 trips or slips on construction sites involve someone fracturing bones or dislocating joints.
These incidents can cause permanent disablement and have a huge impact on both work and personal life. Many of are caused simply because there is something in the person's way, such as building materials or waste.

  • Remember: sensible management of materials can reduce waste, reduce cost whilst improving site safety and helping to protect the environment.

Materials storage

Safe and efficient materials storage depends on good co-operation and co-ordination between everyone involved including, client, contractors, suppliers and the construction trades.

On all projects the arrangements for materials storage should be discussed and agreed between contractors and the project client. Larger notifiable projects should have arrangements for materials storage included in the Construction phase plan.

Top tips for materials storage on smaller projects:

  • Storage areas - designate storage areas for plant, materials, waste, flammable substances eg foam plastics, flammable liquids and gases such as propane and hazardous substances eg pesticides and timber treatment chemicals;
  • Pedestrian routes – do not allow storage to 'spread' in an uncontrolled manner on to footpaths and other walkways. Do not store materials where they obstruct access routes or where they could interfere with emergency escape;
  • Flammable materials - will usually need to be stored away from other materials and protected from accidental ignition;
  • Storage at height - if materials are stored at height eg on top of a container, make sure necessary guard rails are in place if people could fall when stacking or collecting materials or equipment;
  • Tidiness - keep all storage areas tidy, whether in the main compound or on the site itself; and
  • Deliveries - plan deliveries to keep the amount of materials on site to a minimum.

Waste management

There is other legislation governing the proper disposal of waste, ranging from low risk waste through to hazardous waste. These laws are enforced by the Environment Agency and Local Authorities.

However, all waste produced can also present a real safety hazard to workers on site if it is not properly managed throughout the project. You need to decide at an early stage:

  • How -  wastes streams produced during building work will be managed in a timely and effective way; and
  • Who - is responsible for collecting and disposal of specific wastes produced on site. Problems often arise when company and individual duties are not made clear before work starts.

Top tips for waste management on smaller projects:

  • Flammable materials  - make sure that all flammable waste materials (such as packaging and timber offcuts) are cleared away regularly to reduce fire risks;
  • Work areas - make clearing waste a priority for all trades. Check that everyone is aware of what is required that it is being done;
  • Skips - waste materials need storing safely before their removal from the site so make sure that you allow sufficient space for waste skips and bins etc. Plan where the skips can be positioned and how often they will need to be collected;
  • Waste within buildings - consider waste generated inside the building and whether you need to provide wheeled bins or chutes etc. to enable it to be brought out of the building safely;

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