Health & Safety
Health & Safety: Setting up a safe facility for stored goods
Optimize your facilities for safety
October 21, 2022 By By CCOHS
Because groundskeeping maintenance buildings and storage facilities typically exist out of the public eye, less consideration may be given to making them look orderly. But configuring facilities in such a way that materials and equipment are safely stored and readily accessible is essential, both for employee safety and for facilitating smooth operations. Not configuring them properly can have dire consequences, such as injuries, fires, or environmental damage.
Here are some considerations for supervisors and landscapers looking to optimize their operations centre for safe use.
Where to start
A well-designed facility considers the safety of employees and safe storage of hazardous products and allows for efficient access to equipment and maintenance supplies. It’s good practice to have a facility guidebook available, where employees can reference all safe storage and equipment maintenance practices.
Safe storage of hazardous products
In addition to ensuring adequate space for storage, it’s important to configure the facility in a way that minimizes the risk of spills, fires, slips and falls, and related injuries.
Where possible, having a chemical storage area that is separate from the rest of the maintenance facility provides an additional layer of safety, as spills or fires are more easily contained and additional localized environmental protections can be applied. The chemical storage area should be secure, well-ventilated, and only accessible by staff trained in the use of those hazardous products. These products should also be stored off the floor and not above eye level.
Always review the safety data sheet (SDS) or other technical data sheet to make sure that incompatible materials are stored separately. These documents will provide guidance on the safe storage of materials.
Keep a spill containment kit on hand for wet spills and dry spills to be swept up quickly. When chemical containers are empty, be sure to thoroughly rinse, and properly dispose of them.
Consider designating a dedicated area for battery storage that is protected from moisture and the elements, and ensure staff wear gloves and goggles when handling them to protect against exposure to battery acid.
Nitrogen-based fertilizers, which are oxidants and can cause fires, should be stored away from solvents, fuels, and pesticides. To prevent ground contamination from water runoff, fertilizers should be stored in an area protected from rainfall.
Store pesticides in an isolated area away from other chemicals. Handle or mix pesticides over an impermeable surface, while wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and instruct employees to avoid working with chemicals while alone.
Be sure to clean and maintain equipment in ways that prevent wash water, fuels, motor oil, brake and transmission fluids, or solvents from draining directly into local surface waters.
Every employee who interacts with the maintenance facility should be trained in safe storage and cleanup practices and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). It’s good practice to regularly dedicate time each month for equipment and storage maintenance, during which employees and supervisors can focus on cleaning and organizing the facility and perform routine maintenance on equipment.
Larger pieces of equipment, such as riding mowers and golf carts, should have designated storage areas marked on the floor. Smaller tools such as trimmers, sprayers or chainsaws should be hung or stored on shelves in a separate, secure storage space. Inspect tools daily to make sure they’re in good repair and properly maintained. Ensure all guards and shields for your equipment are in place, handles are tight and fastened securely, and handle surfaces are smooth and sliver-free. Dull tools are more hazardous than sharp ones, so keep cutting tools and equipment sharp. Always protect the cutting edges of the tools and equipment, storing them in a way that prevents the cutting edges from being dulled or damaged. Label damaged tools and remove them from the work site right away.
Instruct workers not to attempt to use them unless they’ve been trained on the safe use of the equipment and have read, understood, and can follow the manufacturer’s operating manual. Electrical tools should meet the requirements set by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or another applicable and recognized certification organization.
Failure to keep the workplace tidy and organized can create tripping hazards, the risk of puncture wounds from wire, steel strapping, or protruding nails, or put workers at risk of being struck by falling objects.
Periodic “panic” cleanups are costly and ineffective in reducing incidents, so consider including facility housekeeping on regular maintenance days.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) promotes the total well being of workers in Canada by providing information, training, education, systems and solutions that support health and safety programs and injury and illness prevention.
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