Storage of Combustible Materials on Construction Sites

Construction sites are especially vulnerable to fire outbreak due to the number of materials stored on the site. Any fire can potentially be hazardous and can cause injury or even death. Hence, adequate precautions must be taken to safely store all the materials, especially combustible materials.

Storage of Materials

Combustible materials should ideally be stored outside the construction area especially if they are volatile and flammable, like LPG. In case such materials are stored inside the building, they must be kept in areas that are not a threat to the people on the worksite. For example, paint cans must not be stored under emergency staircases, steps or emergency exits. Access to the stores must be restricted to only authorised personnel so that the material is not dispersed indiscriminately around the construction site.

In case storage is not possible outside the building, the internal storage must be arranged in a manner to prevent the spread of fire. Internal stores must be separated from the rest of the worksite by using a partition that can provide at least 30 minutes of fire resistance. This can be done by using very good quality plasterboard. The doors must also be self-closing and fire resistant.

Storage of More Volatile Materials

In the case of highly flammable and volatile liquids such as solvents, LPG, petrol, adhesives, oxygen cylinders, etc., extra precautions should be taken. There must be good ventilation to prevent the build-up of dangerous vapours and gases. The ventilator openings should not open out into the surrounding structures.

Sometimes, due to security reasons, volatile flammable materials may be stored inside the building. Any such storage units must be separate from the area of construction. It should have good ventilation and constructed out of non-combustible material. Any storage unit should have two exits that should be unlocked if anyone is within.

LPG can be stored in small quantities of less than 300 kilos in a lockable wire cage and kept far away from accommodation areas, excavations and other structures. You can store small quantities of flammable liquids such as solvents, adhesives, paints, petrol, etc. up to 50 litres in steel chests that can be locked.

Any other material except flammable materials must not be kept in the flammable materials store. Also, take care to store flammable solids, liquids and gases in separate stores.

Petrol fuelled equipment must be refuelled in areas that are well-ventilated and outside the work area. Petrol cans must not be stored on the construction site or near escape routes. Oxygen cylinders must be stored away from flammable gases such as acetylene, LPG, etc.

Handling of Volatile Flammable Materials

Highly flammable liquids must be handled very carefully.  Drip trays must be provided to hold the liquids while decanting and dispensing. Any handling of such materials must be done in well-ventilated areas. When dispensing from large containers, use proper handling equipment. Keep the flammable liquids in closed containers during transportation. Contaminated rags and cloths must be disposed of safely in metal containers that are closed. Any clothing that may get soaked with the flammable liquid should be replaced.

All necessary precautions must be taken when storing such volatile and combustible materials on the construction site. As an added precaution, the worksite must be equipped with fire prevention and fire protection equipment that can safeguard your workers and the worksite from damage in the case of a fire.

By installing a Cygnus fire protection system on your site, you can ensure that the worksite is completely protected and is safe from fire. Cygnus’ top-of-the-line equipment definitely redefines the word “safety”.