Handling and Storage of Building Materials

building material storage

Handling and storing of construction or buildings materials used in the construction industry from essential operations to their end use. Handling and storing building materials is mostly multi-step, when the material is received at the first unloading site away from the work site or has to be moved to the storage site for any reason. Loading, stacking, lifting, loading and conveying operations are mostly done manually; but gradually more and more mechanical aids and gadgets are being used.

With expanded construction activity, a large amount of material has to be handled / stored as well as new and bulk materials coming in; as a result, there will be an increased risk for workers employed on handling and storage operations. Therefore, it has become necessary to prepare a guideline for workers for safe operation.

Stacking and Piling

Stacking is the act by which a material is stacked while piling is a structural support consisting of wood, steel, or other construction material.

The material should be separated on the basis of type, size and length and, if placed, a neat, orderly pile that is protected against falls. If the hemorrhoids are high, they should be taken back at suitable intervals at height. Stacks of material should be arranged to allow passage of less than 1 meter width between the pile or the pile for inspection and removal. All routes should be kept clean of dry vegetation.

The material should be well drained and stacked on a firm surface. The material should not be stacked to impose any undue stress on walls or other structures.

The material should be stacked in such a way that it does not pose a threat to passers-by. At such places, there should be appropriate warning signs for stacks in their daylight and around them and red lights at night.

Manual Lifting/handling

From manufacturing to healthcare, manual handling plays a large role in a whole host of industries. However, lifting and carrying heavy loads can be dangerous if no relevant regulations are followed, conditions are less than ideal, or employees are not trained to perform manual handling tasks in the safest manner. Manual handling means transportation, supporting loads by hand, or physical force. This includes lifting, holding down and pushing, pulling, carrying or moving. A load can be an object, person or animal. When handling materials manually, each worker should be instructed by his supervisor in the proper method of lifting heavy objects.

Workers must necessarily be provided with the appropriate equipment for their personal safety. Supervisors should also take care to allocate enough men for each weighting task; the weight taken by each man should be determined by the distance to be moved, difficulty of movement presented, time required, etc.

Storage area posting

Suitable signs should be placed at all storage locations where special conditions occur or where special precautions are necessary.

Handling and Storage of building materials

The stacking, storage and handling of commonly used building materials should be given below.

Storage of Construction Water

  1. Water to be used in construction should be stored in temporary storage tanks, bottom and the sides of which should be constructed with brick or concrete.
  2. Contact with any organic impurities should be prevented.
  3. The total capacity of the storage tank should be determined after taking into account the water required for each construction activity where water is required.
  4. The tank should be so located as to facilitate easy storage and filling in, and supply for construction works.
  5. Passage of water to the water tank should not be blocked at any time.

Handling and Storage of Cement

  1. Cement bags should not be stored with other construction materials.
  2. To prevent the bags from being punctured or damaged, make sure any sharp objects have been removed from the vehicle before loading the bags.
  3. Cement bags should be stored in a dry and enclosed structure, protected from rains and moisture and the stacked cement bags should be kept covered with waterproof sheets or tarpaulin.
  4. Firm base should be prepared before stacking of cement bags. Floor can be prepared by using lean concrete or brickbats, with layer of polyethylene sheet on top of it.
  5. Cement bags should not be stacked directly on floor. Instead, use wooden planks to keep minimum gap of 200 mm from the floor.
  6. Different types of cements should be segregated and store in separate bays with receiving date. Moreover, cement packaging like cements in gunny bags, paper bags and polythene sheets should be stored separately.
  7. Stacks should not be higher than 15 bags and width not more than 4 bags. If the stack has to be more than 8 bags high, the bags can be arranged in alternate layers like header and stretcher fashion, to tie the piles together to mitigate the danger of toppling over.
  8. Bags should be removed from the top of the piles to avoid tipping of the stack.
  9. A minimum clear space of 500-600 mm should be provided between the stacks and any exterior wall.
  10. Cover the stacks completely by polyethylene sheet during rainy days.
  11. The strength of cement deteriorates with time so rotate the stock to ensure usability. Check the manufacturers’ date and use the oldest stock first.
  12. Workers handling cement should wear protective clothing, respirators, and goggles.
  13. Hooks should not be used for handling cement bags unless permitted by the supervisor.
  14. Workers handling cement should put on protective hand and face coverings and use skin protective.
  15. Cement bags should not be dropped during handling. This can weaken and damage the packaging.
  16. When carrying individual cement bags, do not carry them by holding at the ends. Make sure the bag is held by supporting on the underside. This will help to prevent the bag from sagging in the middle and splitting, and reduce the strain on the shoulders and back.

Handling and Storage of Steel Rebar

Steel is generally sensitive to moisture and dust. Therefore, if the rebars are handled carelessly, there is a high probability that the steel can come in direct contact with any one of them. Even though steel rebars have resistance to corrosion, storage and handling of steel bars should be so handled to minimize leaving them in exposed conditions to natural elements for a prolonged time. Normally reinforced steel bars are transported to the construction sites by trucks as lots. Following certain methods for the handling and storage can save time and effort along with ensuring the maximum efficiency of the reinforced steel.

  1. Reinforcing steel should be stored according to class, length, size and shape. Proper tagging should be done on each bundle or lot.
  2. Rebar should be stacked or piles in such a manner as to prevent tipping or falling.
  3. The storage area should be dust and moisture free. Tarpaulin or polyethylene sheets should be laid on firm base before stacking steel rebar.
  4. At the time of unloading, use timber in order to avoid contact with dirt and water.
  5. Adequate spacing should be maintained between storage bays to ensure safe access.
  6. Workers handling steel bars should be required to wear gloves.
  7. Optimize the stacking height for the reinforced bars. The more the stacking height, the more load bars will have to endure at the lower layers. The excessive load may damage the ribs on the surface of the rebar, which in turn reduces tensile strength.
  8. Coating the reinforced steel with cement washes or primer before stacking prevents scaling and rusting. 
  9. Steel should be stored in place away from electrical lines.
  10. Heavy steel sections and bundles should be lifted and carried with the help of slings and tackles and should not be carried on the shoulders of the workers.

Handling and Storage of Sand, Aggregates and Crushed Stone

  1. Sand, stone and aggregates should be stored in piles where they will not interfere with the work.
  2. Different sizes of aggregates should not be stockpiled in such a way that they overflow into each other. This can mix different sized aggregates, making it difficult to obtain the expected mix design.
  3. Stones should be stacked on dry firm ground in a regular heap not more than 1 m in height.
  4. Stone Veneers should be stacked against vertical support on a firm dry ground in tiers up to a height of 1.2m. A distance of about 0.8m should be kept between two adjacent stacks.
  5. Aggregates should be stored on clean, hard ground like brickbat or lean concrete flooring away from vegetation to avoid contamination.
  6. Fine and coarse aggregates should either be stored separately or heaps be separated by dividing walls to avoid mixing.
  7. Fine aggregates should be stacked in a place where loss due to the effect of wind is found minimum. Alternatively can be covered with polyethylene sheets.
  8. Materials should not be piled against walls that will be endangered by thrust, nor along the sides of any excavation or on the top of an embankment to cause slips.
  9. Area of stockpile should be accessible for vehicular movement.

Handling and Storage of Paint

  1. The floor of the paint store should have 100 mm thick loose sand on it.
  2. Paint storage areas must have adequate ventilation and lighting and adequate access for firefighting equipment. 
  3. Paint should be stored away from sources of spark or flame.
  4. Paint stored outside buildings, no more than 1000 Gallon of paint should be in any one stack or group and groups must be separated by a 1.5m clearance, with a 3.5m access within 60m to allow access for fire equipment.
  5. Paints should not be stored in stairways or areas normally used for safe passages or exits.
  6. Bulk storage, containers larger than 25 gallons, must be in separate wood or metal cabinets with “flammable liquid” warnings, no more than three cabinets in any one storage area.
  7. Paints, varnishes, thinners and other flammable materials should be kept in properly sealed or closed containers.
  8. Paint materials in quantities other than required for daily use should be kept stocked under regular storage place.
  9. Avoid having leftover paint by buying only the amount you need to do the job.
  10. Sources of ignition, such as open flame and exposed heating elements, should not be permitted in paint store, nor should smoking be allowed there.
  11. Leaky drums should be either totally removed or separated and empty drums should be stored in pyramidal stacks neatly in rows

Handling and Storage of Bitumen and Tar

  1. Stacks should not exceed 100 drums (180/200 liters).
  2. A safety distance of 6 m minimum should be kept between stacks.
  3. Drums or containers containing bitumen, road tar, asphalt, etc. should be stacked vertically on their bottoms in up to 3 tiers. Drums should be kept stacked on their sides so that water does not collect on them.
  4. To facilitate rolling of drums of the middle and top tiers, in building up or breaking down the stack, suitable skids should be temporarily laid on the tier over which rolling has to be done.

Handling and Storage of Timber

  1. Timber should be stored in stacks on well treated and even surfaced beams, sleepers or brick pillars so as to be at least 200 mm above the ground level to avoid contact with water.
  2. The top of each pile should be kept as level as possible when timber is being removed.
  3. No nails should be allowed to protrude to cause any injury hazard.
  4. Two men should carry long boards, and care should be exercised at corners and cross-walks.
  5. Members should be stored separately in layers according to lengths and materials of equal lengths should be piled together in layers with wooden battens of sound wood, straight and uniform thickness.
  6. In any layer a 25 mm air space should be kept between adjacent members.
  7. The longer pieces should be placed in the bottom layers and shorter pieces in the top layers. At least one end of the stack should be in true vertical alignment.
  8. The recommended width and height of a stack are 1.5 m and 2.0 m respectively.
  9. Minimum distance between two stacks should be 800 mm.
  10. All timbers to be stored for a year or more, the ends of members should be coated with coal tar or other suitable material.
  11. The stacks of timbers should be protected from hot dry wind, direct sun and rain.
  12. Heavy weights may be placed on top of the stacks to prevent warping of timber.
  13. Nails, metal straps, etc. attached to used timber, particularly planks and form-work for shuttering should be removed before stacking.
  14. Care must be taken that rails, straps, etc., attached to the used timber like planks and form-work for shuttering, do not injure the workers.

Handling and Storage of Bricks and Concrete Blocks

  1. Bricks and blocks should be stored on a flat surface and avoid direct contact with the ground.
  2. Transport of bricks/blocks utilizing wheelbarrow should be avoided unless completely in narrow places.
  3. For proper inspection of quality and ease in counting, the stack should not exceed 50 bricks in length, 10 bricks in height and 4 bricks in width, being stacked sideways at a time along the width of the stack.
  4. The apparent distance between adjacent piles should not be less than 800 mm.
  5. Each truckload of bricks should be placed in a stack. Different types of bricks, like clay bricks, fly ash lime bricks and calcium silicate bricks should be stacked separately.
  6. Bricks of different classification should be stacked separately from strength considerations and shape considerations.
  7. Different types of blocks, like concrete, hollow insulated, lightweight and AAC should be stacked separately.
  8. Bricks should be soaked in water well in a pile.
  9. Concrete blocks should be stored in piles of such height, so that the blocks in the lower layers are not damaged.
  10. Bricks/blocks should be loaded or unloaded with care, and not thrown or dumped. Whenever necessary, they should be moved from the stack to the site of placement in small batches.
  11. Incomplete masonry work and unused blocks / bricks should be protected from exposure to weather, especially when construction work is halted for any period.
  12. Bricks and blocks should be placed close to the work site so that minimal effort is required to unload and transport.
  13. Blocks should be stored on firm, not more than 2 level palette land and protected from exposure to severe weather to preserve their quality.
  14. Normally blocks cured for 28 days should be received on site only. In case of curing for less than 28 days, these should be stacked separately.
  15. All blocks should be cured for 10 to 14 days and water for another 15 days; thus, no block less than 28 days should be used in building construction.

Handling and Storage of Sanitary wares

  1. All sanitary wares should be stored under cover to prevent damage.
  2. In receiving and storing items, consideration should be given to the sequence of removal from the store to the assembly positions.
  3. Vitreous fittings should be stacked separately from the metal ones. Bigger sanitary items should be handled one at a time. Traps, water seals and gullies should be handled separately.
  4. Sanitary fittings should be protected from any oil spillages; hands of the workers should be free of any oily substance.
  5. The supporting brackets, pedestals etc. should be checked before lowering the appliances in their position.

Handling and Storage of Tiles

storage
  1. Use mechanical handling devices (forklifts, wheelbarrows, hand trucks) when loading or unloading large quantities of ceramic tiles.
  2. Do not load and lift ceramic tiles pallet weighing more than 1.5 tons.
  3. Tiles should be on flat ground to ensure stability.
  4. To prevent staining during storage, tiles should be wrapped and stored in a dry, firm and level ground in their original package. They should be placed on pallets to prevent damage from moisture, water and moisture.
  5. Various types of floor, wall and clay roof tiles, like cement concrete tiles (plain, colored and terrazzo) and ceramic tiles (glazed and uncapped) under cover in appropriate layers as far as possible When possible, the stack should be stacked on a regular platform and in tiers and not thrown into the pile.
  6. Tiles should be stacked sideways rather than flat. Stacking tiles horizontally will result in crushing of pieces and breaking underweight, while vertically they can withstand a lot of pressure.
  7. In the stack, the tiles should be placed so that the molded surface of one faces the other.
  8. The height of the stack should not exceed 1 m.
  9. Tiles of different quality, size and thickness must be stacked separately to facilitate easy removal for use in work.
  10. Always store the tile with the label on the side of the box facing outwards.
  11. Observe the following maximum stacking height per tile size:
10 cm x 20 cm3 pallets high
20 cm x 20 cm3 pallets high
30 cm x 30 cm4 pallets high
40 cm x 40 cm3 pallets high
60 cm x 60 cm1 pallets high

Handling and Storage of Glass

building materials
  1. Never stack glass panels horizontally. Store panels on edge at an angle of 4° to 5° from the vertical, with sufficient lateral support to prevent bowing, in a clean dry, ventilated place, avoiding direct sunshine and other sources of heat.
  2. Set the glass panes on strips of wood or other soft material, to avoid contact with hard materials such as metal, stone or concrete. Avoid contact with alkaline materials such as lime and cement.
  3. Delivery, handling and site storage methods must be agreed for each site. Any form of factory applied protection, such as cork pads or shrink-wrapping, must not be removed until the glass is ready for installation.
  4. Upon the delivery of the glass, check marks and labels on the crate, pack or glass to ensure compliance with the specification.
  5. The edges and corners of glass and double-glazed units are especially vulnerable during handling, storage and installation. Inspect the cut edges of the glass for excessive flaws such as shells or feathers that can compromise the strength and mechanical performance of the glass.
  6. All glass sheets should be kept dry and stored in a covered space. Glass sheets should be lifted and stored upright on their long edges and put into stacks of not more than 25 sheets.
  7. They should be supported at two points at about 300 mm from each end by fillets of wood. The bottom of each stack should be about 25 mm clear from the base of the wall and other support against which the stack rests.
  8. The whole stack should be as close to upright as possible. Smooth floors should be covered with gunny bags.
  9. Workers handling glass sheets, remnants and waste glass pieces etc. should be provided with gloves.
  10. In removing glass sheets from crates, great care should be taken to avoid damages from breakage. Glass edges should be covered or protected to prevent injuries to workers.

3 thoughts on “Handling and Storage of Building Materials”

  1. A system of rigid expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation bricks separated by plastic webbing is used to construct an insulated concrete form (ICF). ICF walls structure can be firmly connected because of its interlocking components. When pouring concrete, it is utilized as an integrated super form, eliminating a separate form for wood planks or plywood. Concrete is poured, and the drywall and siding are fastened to insulation fastener strips once the blocks are in place.

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