It is not uncommon for a building project to experience delays at some point, which can range in severity from a day to an entire project being postponed indefinitely.

In these circumstances, it can create a supply chain headache, as some products have already been delivered, some are in transit, and others are ordered, which combine to create a logistical nightmare.

Chief among project managers’ considerations in these instances will be how to store the building materials to ensure they are not only safe, but protected from the elements and can be easily used once the project or element of the project restarts.

For larger materials and products, it is often not feasible to house them indoors, which can require situating them outside and – depending on the sector or nature of the work – also involve placing them within easy access of the general public.

In these situations, there are legal requirements to take into account, not only at a national governmental level, but also to comply with local council legislation, as each have their own rules when it comes to building materials storage.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that every part of a construction site or building project needs to be kept in ‘good order’ and every place of work clean. The objective is to achieve what is usually called a good standard of ‘housekeeping’ across the site.

In addition, all contractors must plan, manage and monitor their work so it is carried out safely and without risks to health. This includes careful planning on how the site will be kept tidy and how housekeeping will be actively managed.

The HSE notes that safe and efficient materials storage depends on good co-operation and co-ordination between everyone involved, including the client, contractors, suppliers and the construction trades.

On all projects, the arrangements for materials storage must be first discussed and then agreed between contractors and the project client, with larger notifiable projects having arrangements for materials storage included in the construction phase plan.

For projects that are underway, a number of considerations must be taken into account, including having designate storage areas for plant, materials, waste and any flammable or hazardous substances such as gases, liquids and chemicals.

Pedestrian routes must also be created, which adds extra impetus on the control of storage to ensure the public can navigate any hazards easily and to avoid the obstruction of access routes or where they could interfere with emergency escapes.

Another key requirement regards storage at height, with any materials that are stored on top of a container needing the necessary guard rails are in place to prevent falling when stacking or collecting equipment.

Finally, deliveries must be strategically planned to keep the amount of materials on site to a minimum and ensure that, should delays occur, there are contingencies in place.

While project delays are not always avoidable, the correct planning can ensure that building materials can be safely stored and maintained, should a project be pushed back or a particular stage hit a hurdle, and mean things can be swiftly resumed when the situation is resolved.

By Liam O’Hara, marketing director at SIG Building Solutions