The Good & the Bad of Materials Storage

The Good & the Bad of Materials Storage
Posted on in Featured, ReStores

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Where and how to store materials and items that are donated to a ReStore can be a good question. Building materials for future jobs need to be stored. Donated items need cleaning or repair before putting out for sale. And sometimes there is just too little space to put even the little stuff. This can lead to improper and unsafe storage by piling, crowding and overloading.Material storage is also typically a focus point during a ReStore Safety Review, and needs to be taken seriously.

This OSHA document titled Materials Handling and Storing ( is applicable in a ReStore environment, and provides lots of great information on storing, handling, stacking, using equipment and machinery in a warehouse, and much more.

In addition to this manual, we’ve highlight “Good” ways and “Bad” ways of storing materials and items.


GOOD Storage Practices:

  • Glass & Mirrors – Restrict access to areas where mirrors and glass are stored — not allowing young children into the area.
  • Cardboard – Store unused cardboard outdoors to avoid exposure to high heat sources inside.
  • Pallets – Store unused pallets outdoors, at least 25 feet from the outside wall, if possible, to reduce the risk of fire. If stored inside, keep pallet stacks to a maximum height of 6 feet, with no more than 4 stacks of pallets total, and a distance of 8 feet separating each stack.
  • Carts & Dollies – Consolidate all moving carts, dollies, and pallet jacks to one location. Leaving these items out and unsecured represents can be a tripping hazard.
  • Upper-level Storage – To maximize the height of your warehouse, you may be inclined to store items on a mezzanine (upper) level (such as on top of an office space). If this storage method is necessary for you:
    •  First, you must hire a professional structural engineer to determine the safe load limit for the upper level.
    • Post “Load Limit” signs with the maximum pounds per square foot allowed
    • Install a safety guard railing, including toe-boards, around the mezzanine area.
    • Use bolts, not nails, to install/secure the guard railing.
    • When working up on the mezzanine level, use a full-body harness and tie-off anchor to prevent falling to the lower level.


BAD Storage Practices:

  • Do not store or display paint or other items on pallets on the floor. Floor displays like this easily blend in with the floor and are easy to miss while walking or looking at upper-level displays.
  • Do not store combustible materials near, or below, a heating unit. This includes paint, solvents, wood, carpet and cardboard. The heating unit could be an ignition source and the materials could catch fire.
  • Do not store materials near electrical systems. Maintain a clearance area of at least 2-3 feet between stored materials and any electrical system.
  • Do not stock any materials on stairs or blocking an exit route.
  • Do not store materials that will block access to a fire extinguisher.
  • Do not exceed the carrying capacity of racks and shelves. If possible, all racks should be clearly labeled with its carrying capacity. A local shelving supplier may be able to help you determine the carrying capacity, if you can provide the brand or manufacturer of your shelving system.

Following these safe storage tips will help keep your staff and shoppers safe. If you notice a “bad” storage practice happening in your ReStore or warehouse, speak up and fix it! Safely organizing a ReStore and warehouse is a team effort.

If you have questions about this article, other safe storage practices you’d like to share, contact us at (888) 553-9002 or email us.

We’re also happy to help you develop a Safety Plan for your ReStore. If you’d like to discuss this service, contact the HFHI U.S. Safety Specialist, Don Hartle, at (404) 420-6730.


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