How to store hazardous substances on a construction site

Managing Director of

Construction is historically one of the most dangerous industries in the UK in terms of workplace safety is why construction companies must maintain the highest level of health and safety standards. A critical component is ensuring that your workplace has sufficient safety precautions in place for the safe handling and storage of hazardous substances.

How to store hazardous substances on a construction site
How to store hazardous substances on a construction site

The construction sector relies on the use of hazardous chemicals on a daily basis; cement, paint, caustic chemicals, glues and solvents, and a number of other products release inhalable vapours, fumes, and dust. Each of these has the potential to damage the environment or human health if carelessly stored or handled.

As a result, under the UK’s Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) legislation, all construction businesses that store potentially hazardous substances and chemicals on site are required by law to provide specific guidance on how to minimise these risks.

Precautions for construction sites storing hazardous chemicals

If hazardous materials must be stored on your construction site, the employer must include the following considerations in their company’s policies:

  • Ensure the storage area is well-lit, well-ventilated, and well-organised, with adequate space to safely store all potentially dangerous substances
  • Choose surfaces for substance storage that are resistant to the substances and easy to clean in the event of a spill
  • Store hazardous substances according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, instructions, and Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
  • Store substances that are incompatible or dangerous to store together separately
  • Maintain a safe distance between potentially flammable materials and ignition sources, such as boilers and heaters
  • Label each substance correctly and accurately 
  • Minimise the number and amount of dangerous substances stored
  • Store hazardous substances near spill response kits so that staff can quickly locate them in the case of an accident
  • Keep potentially dangerous chemicals and liquids above ground, where they are less likely to be damaged or spilt
  • Designate hazardous material storage areas clearly with appropriate safety signs, labels, and danger symbols to notify staff about potential risks and safety precautions

These processes will vary based on the type of hazardous substance used in your workplace, but by considering each factor, you account for every conceivable risk and guarantee that all essential safety precautions are performed at all times.

Additional safety precautions for construction sites storing hazardous materials

In addition to maintaining a secure storage area and adhering to best practices for handling potentially hazardous products, those responsible for safety on construction sites must take the following measures:

  • Conduct a risk assessment to identify any potential workplace hazards and hazardous substances that your staff are likely to come into contact with in everyday activities, including the products they use and the byproducts of their work
  • Determine strategies for removing the hazardous substance from your workplace, or find a safer version of the product to replace it
  • If the hazardous substance cannot be replaced, create and maintain a clear plan to manage and dispose of it that decreases the risk of harmful exposure
  • Provide complete training to all employees on safe chemical storage procedures, including clear information on all potential hazards and manufacturer’s instructions, as well as advice on when personal protective equipment is necessary
  • Create a clear emergency plan to ensure that any leaks or spills are cleaned as soon as possible with the appropriate equipment
  • Install hazardous storage cabinets that meet COSHH requirements
  • Examine and inspect the approved storage area for your hazardous compounds on a regular basis for leaks, container damage, or container and substance expiration
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to all employees who work with or near dangerous chemicals
  • Use safety signs and site safety boards to warn employees and visitors about the potential dangers of hazardous chemicals and to advise them on how to operate safely with these substances.
  • Maintain a supply of COSHH management and spill control products on hand to ensure that any spills can be cleaned up and contained immediately.

By implementing these strategies, businesses in construction ensure that all employees benefit from a safe workplace, allowing those responsible for maintaining workplace safety to control the dangers posed by hazardous substances without affecting the company’s productivity.