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Design Considerations for Storage Areas

Worksite Redesign Technical Advisory Project

  • Storage space requirements and design must be based on a comprehensive need and use assessment.
  • Inventory supplies and equipment requirements prior to resident placement. Adequate space must be provided in a plan which will safely store and give easy access to these items. The inventory must include:
    • Resident's personal items
    • Equipment that is owned or shared
    • Therapy supplies
    • Auxiliary possessions such as bolsters, incontinence materials, and hobby items
  • Storage location must support good body positioning and movement, and should not block walks or exits.
  • Heavy boxes and storage items need to be stored between knee and chest height for safe lifting. Locate lighter items at shoulder level and floor level. Avoid any storage over shoulder height, as the person is unable to view the item and proper lifting of the item would require a ladder or lift. Once an employee is off the floor, there is a greater opportunity for an accident. (See illustrations, page 93.)
  • Household operational requirement such as food storage, both short- and long-term, requires adjustable-height shelving, pantry and freezer space. Paper products, incontinence pads, and other similar disposable items require consideration for both storage and disposal. Wheeled carts and containers which reduce lifting and carrying by staff are desirable.
  • Cleaning products and supplies need locked storage. Keep heavy objects low and design to discourage over-extension and awkward movement. Mops and brooms are best kept in a closet designed for their storage.
  • Medication storage requires special planning. Locked drawers and cupboards should be situated away from other functions, such as food preparation, laundry, and bathing. Provision for both the short- and long-term storage of records is essential. Files end up overhead because no other place is available.\
  • The storage of residents' personal belongings will become a hazard if space is not adequate. Shelving must always be secured and not permitted to become overloaded or dangerously unbalanced. Shelf, closet, and drawer space should be designed to encourage organization, and avoid stacking and creeping into traffic and floor spaces. Wheelchair storage requires planning. Safe recharging stations for electric chairs must also be designed for.
  • Provide for an assessment of:
    • Space consideration prior to resident placement
    • Minimum of 80 square feet of storage for each home. Where homes are known to require additional space, a plan must be developed to accommodate these requirements
    • Storage areas with built-in cabinets and adjustable shelves support good body mechanics in lifting stored materials

Tall cabinet or closet space for cleaning
supplies should be considered.

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  • Storage in hallway reduces open floors and poses tripping hazards
  • Projecting shelves are a hazard


  • Space needs a storage plan
  • Hangers, racks, organizers, and additional shelving need to be incorporated in the plan
  • Objects not stored properly migrate into the traffic area and create tangle-foot hazards
  • Keep storage area floor from becoming too cluttered
  • Proper lifting of heavy buckets and bins must be addressed 

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Sandy Drive
  • Large room permits storage of wheeled equipment around perimeter
  • Care must be taken to maintain open walks and "working" space

  • Alcove designed for wheelchair storage at entry
  • Overloading of the shelves creates toppling hazards
  • Non-skid, walk-off mat helps to keep floors dry 

  • Large-capacity shelf unit provides good flexible storage
  • Direction of the lower pulls changed to horizontal line to reduce hazards
  • A plan considering storage by weight and frequency of use is recommended
  • Adequate storage eliminates physical and visual clutter

Pioneer Pike

  • Lack of a plan for office space and storage results in inappropriate laundry/storage room overuse
  • Recordkeeping and office storage compete for space with laundry functions
  • Sanitation compromised when laundry functions are mixed with other work 

River Road

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  • Locked storage along entry hall
  • Double door provides access to freezer
  • Floor-to-ceiling shelving and sprinkler closet are on the left side of the hall
  • Abundant storage provided near the entry saves staff energy
  • Door hardware may pose bruising hazards, but the 49" hall width helps to prevent this 

Glory Lane

  • No provision has been made for the storage of mop bucket or heavy cleaning supplies
  • Buckets block the path and pose a hazard
  • Locked storage for cleaning supplies needed
  • High shelf is difficult and dangerous to access
  • Store heavy items between knee and shoulder

North A Street

Martha Court
  • Garages become catch-all storage spaces
  • Good example of shelving options is pictured
  • Regular inventory and clean-up would be advisable
  • Floor has become cluttered-leaned objects may topple
  • Accessibility disappears when items are stacked in front of shelves
  • Heavy boxes and other heavy items should be stored between knee and chest height. Lifting heavy objects from the floor or from an overhead location is a hazard that can be avoided by design and layout. The former is a risk for back injury, the latter a risk to the shoulder/arm and back as well as being a hazard for falls due to the increased possibility of lack of balance. 

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