In order to keep a workshop fully-functional and practical, you need adequate storage. Without the appropriate storage solutions, workshops easily become cluttered. This leads to inefficiency as staff spend time searching for tools or equipment. It can also lead to major health & safety issues as cluttered workshops tend to be full of hazards.
There are a large number of considerations you have to factor in when choosing appropriate storage, so make sure you take the time to assess what you need to store so that you purchase storage solutions that are fit for purpose and will last.
How much space do you have?
The space available in your workshop will be governed by the equipment you need to store there, tools, workbenches and such. You also need to make sure there is enough room for employees to safely move around the space. Storage can help to de-clutter and keep you organised, but it can also help you to make the most of the existing space you have.
What’s your budget?
As with most commercial purchases you make, there’s often a trade-off between budget, requirements and longevity. The most important thing is to purchase storage solutions that are practical and fit for purpose, and with some shopping around, you can find the best prices. However, you’ll also want workshop storage that lasts. It’s a false economy to buy solutions that are cheaper but only last you a year or two. Worse still, choosing poor quality storage could, in fact, become a hazard, or could result in tools or parts being lost or damaged.
Wall-mounted or free standing?
There are two practical considerations here; ease of access versus space. Both types of storage solutions have their advantages and disadvantages.
- Free-standing storage solutions mean that parts, tools and equipment will be closer to technicians so that they can access them without effort. Most come with wheels, so they can be moved around as needed, meaning they offer flexibility and the advantage of being able to be used in a variety of situations. However, depending on how they are used, free standing storage can also block routes and access around the workshop and can become a hazard, so ensure that they are practical and that staff are trained to use them.
- Wall mounted storage is ideal for making the most of your space. Storing equipment and tools on the walls gives you back floor space that can be used for more comfortable working conditions. Wall mounted storage also allows you to organise everything in a practical way, dedicating parts of the workshop for specific items, for example. However, it can also be impractical as staff need to leave the workbench to access items.
In reality, a combination of both wall-mounted and free-standing storage usually works best.
Is hygiene important?
If the workshop is prone to microbial growth, it makes sense to choose stainless steel cupboards over wooden ones, for instance. Wood can promote the growth of bacteria and mould, while stainless steel cupboards are much easier to treat with antibacterial cleaning products. As stainless steel is less prone to impacts or nicks and scratches, there is less room for microbes to grow, meaning it is far more hygienic than wood.
Commercial cupboards are also available with Active Coat Anti-Bacterial Coating for extra protection against bacteria, mould and other microbes.
For workshops where stringent hygiene standards apply, such as schools, hospitals, social care environments and suchlike, Biocote™ coating is ideal. It is particularly suitable for lockers where staff will change into clothing suitable for workshop work, preventing cross-contamination of different areas.
What do you need to store?
Depending on the type of work you do, you may need specific storage solutions for the purposes of safety or confidentiality.
In order to meet COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations, you will need storage that prevents spillages and cross-contamination. These are often lockable, with keys given only to competent persons. CoSHH cupboards and storage usually have warning signs and/or are colour-coded, with information labels applied specifying what should be stored inside.
You may also need to store flammable materials and will need flame or fire-resistant storage cupboards that ensure substances stored inside are kept within safe temperatures if the workshop uses flames, fire, arc-welding tools and other sources of ignition.
Storing hazardous materials
Hazardous materials storage comes in a wide variety of sizes and styles depending on the use. Flammable liquids are usually stored in bright orange-yellow cupboards with safety labels on the front to distinguish them from storage units storing non-flammable materials. They will be designed to meet COSHH requirements as well as other relevant fire safety legislations. Check the rating of the unit before purchase, as the temperatures they can withstand will vary between types and models.
Hazardous substance storage is usually in brighter yellow or bright red for heavy-duty versions and will come fitted with sump trays that are sealed to prevent spillage from one shelf to the next. This protects against dangerous spillages and cross-contamination. They are also designed in line with British Standards and HSE (Health and Safety Executive) guidelines and legal requirements.
Agrochemicals and pesticides require separate storage which is usually bright green. These are heavy duty cupboards with liquid tight sump trays and stiffened lockable doors. Pesticide cabinets also carry appropriate warning labels and come with antibacterial coatings.
Fire security storage
Fire security doesn’t only mean protection of flammable materials. Often workshops will have document storage facilities and there will be critical documents that must be protected in the event of a fire.
Fireproof safes and storage are built to withstand high temperatures and will keep your documents intact if there is a fire. There are a variety of styles to choose from, with varying degrees of protection, which is usually based on a combination of temperatures and time scales, for instance, protection from fire for 30 minutes at 750 degrees.
It’s also worth considering any other aspects of security you might need. If you need to store sensitive or confidential documentation or items of high value, you’ll want to consider lockable storage. For added protection, you could opt for security safes with digital door locks to control access to entire areas of the workshop or secure key storage cabinets to safely store keys and limit access to competent persons.
First aid storage is also something to consider. All workplaces are required by law to carry first aid kits, but commercial workshops will often require larger first aid cabinets in order to store the range of materials they might need after an accident. These can be free-standing or wall mounted, and are usually lockable to prevent unauthorised access.
Do you need to see what’s in there?
In some workshop spaces, it will be important to have visibility of items that are stored away. However, you’ll want to achieve this without compromising on security. In this case, you should consider wall-mounted storage cupboards made with reinforced doors which feature laminated safety glass that allows you to see what’s inside.
Good quality visible storage will be lockable, with a semi-concealed locking mechanism. These are usually available in a variety of configurations and are often customisable with extra shelves.
Organising small parts
If the workshop carries a lot of small parts, it’s crucial that you get your storage right. Small parts can quickly become disorganised, leading to frustration, inefficiency and worse; a bad job done. Luckily, you can purchase small parts storage solutions designed with this in mind.
Storage units with trays are ideal for organising and safely storing small parts. These are often free-standing for ease of access and you can also choose units that are on wheels or castors to allow for mobility around the workshop. This means that they can always be on hand.
You can choose from shallow or deeper trays with adjustable shelves. Combination units are heavier units with a combination of cupboard space for equipment, tools or documentation and trays for small part storage.
Bin kits allow you to stack small parts trays, while louvre panel storage bins and racks are ideal for parts that are regularly needed, which work with louvre panels, allowing for easy visibility and access. For extra organisation, you can also choose units that have coloured trays. This is ideal for setting up a colour-coded system of organisation, meaning that staff can find small parts at a glance.
Do you require lockers?
Lockers are ideal if you need your staff to change into protective clothing or uniforms to enter the workshop. They also allow them to safely secure personal belongings that they shouldn’t take into the workshop.
Lockers come in a variety of sizes, from small items storage to wardrobe lockers that allow for hanging clothing. You can also choose combination styles that allow both. Lockers should be secure, with locks and keys and, for areas where high standards of hygiene are required, choose Germ Guard or ActiveCoat designs that include antibacterial properties
High capacity lockers are ideal for storing bulky protective clothing such as high-vis jackets, hard hats and boots. Postal lockers allow for secure distribution of mail. Disability lockers are also available, with easy access for wheelchair users. If you work in a high-security area, wire mesh lockers are a good choice, allowing for increased visibility of the contents of the locker.
You need tough, durable storage systems for storing tools. You can usually choose between styles and sizes, with lipped or dished trays for making sure tools or small items don’t roll and cause injury. Workshop tool chests and trolleys are great for those who require a portable solution whilst housing all the essentials you need to carry out your daily tasks. Tool panel kits are also useful; these attach directly to the wall and are customisable with hooks, allowing you to store a variety of tools visibly and with easy access.
Combined storage and workstation solutions
A great way to use your space economically is to purchase work benches with storage included. This can range from light, medium or heavyweight workbenches with integrated shelves and storage cupboards to standing PC or laptop workstations with room for peripherals and documentation. Computer and standing desk workstations come in a variety of styles, with overhead shelving or under desk cupboards, and are an ideal way to free up space. You can also purchase lockable cupboard workstations for storing valuables or confidential documentation.