Occupational (OSHA) and Environmental Hazards/OSHA shelving securing and storage

Advertisement


Question
The medical office where I work is trying to rearrange their medical chart room. The chart shelves are 13dx36wx84h. Do these shelves need to be secured to the wall? Can they be free standing (not against a wall)without being anchored? Can they be back to back without being anchored? Does OSHA have a rule against storing boxes on top of shelving? if so, what is the maximum height of the shelf? Thank you.

Answer
Subject: OSHA shelving securing and storage

Question: The medical office where I work is trying to rearrange their medical chart room. The chart shelves are 13dx36wx84h. Do these shelves need to be secured to the wall? Can they be free standing (not against a wall)without being anchored? Can they be back to back without being anchored? Does OSHA have a rule against storing boxes on top of shelving? if so, what is the maximum height of the shelf? Thank you.

Answer: The short answer is yes, the OSHA code on material storage can be interpreted to require such and it is also a very good idea for the protection of the records.

OSHA states "1926.250(a)(1) - All materials stored in tiers shall be stacked, racked, blocked, interlocked, or otherwise secured to prevent sliding, falling or collapse." This is in the  general codes as there is not a specific section for office environments and it does not take much of an imagination to see a compliance officer citing the code in an office area. Stranger things have happened.

On a more practical basis - I saw a situation once where the shelves had not been secured and a person walking by had a piece of clothing catch on one of the units and as she proceeded the units were pulled down. No one was hurt but the serious result was the large pile of inter-mingled records on the floor and remains of the shelves. I understand it took several weeks to get the records sorted out. Since that time I have always recommended that where possible all units be secured to the wall or in the case of units free standing secured by use of braces as simple as a 2 x 4 across the top of the units and secured. I also recommend that the shelves be sloped slightly towards the rear, use some type of lip where possible to retain the files and others means as simple as "I bolts" and bungee cords to secure the files unless of course the shelving has doors or other means to secure the contents.

You also need to be aware that when it comes to record storage it is very possible that there may be requirements in the building codes and/or fire codes that address such issues and that these vary widely on a location basis so you may want to check with the local fire department. These people are always very helpful and can also help to make sure that issues for things like fire sprinklers are satisfied if such are required.

I hope that this provides an answer to your question and also some insight as to why this is a real and necessary requirement/recommendation. If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to ask.

Michael Brown, CSP Retired

Occupational (OSHA) and Environmental Hazards

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Mike Brown CSP Retired

Expertise

I specialize in the professional management of occupational safety and health as well as workers` compensation to reduce losses and improve production and address related issues through a comprehensive approach by senior management using proven principals.I worked for over twenty (20) years in the management of occupational safety, health and workers` compensation and safety training (Retired from employment in 1996 due to a stroke, which prevented the extensive travel required).

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.