Safe Worksite Layout

A safe worksite layout can help improve safety conditions as well as reduce musculoskeletal disorders manual material handling.


The layout of the construction site can have a significant impact on safety and productivity. The contractor must consider a large number of factors. That makes it difficult to optimize on all criteria so the goal is usually to satisfy all safety requirements with priority given to those factors that protect against fall, struck by, caught between and electrical hazards and that ensure effective response to emergences. On multi-contractor sites it is usually necessary and desirable to work through the general contractor to coordinate site layout with all contractors on site.

Criteria to be satisfied include:

  • Protecting workers from vehicle traffic
  • Allowing ready access to emergency vehicles
  • Establishing safe work areas for mobile cranes
  • Establishing and maintaining safe walking route
  • Establishing storage location that minimize material handling, provide for safe storage, and allows for safe handling and transport of materials
  • Locating motorized equipment to minimize noise exposure
  • Prevent carbon monoxide exposure
  • Keep equipment, storage areas and waste areas at least 2 feet away from any trench
  • Placing noisy operations away from high occupancy areas
  • Facilitating the prevent and suppression of fires
  • Placing sanitation, rest, and water stations in convenient locations for workers
  • Establish evacuation routes and rally points

Protect Workers from Vehicle Traffic

Note: A guide to establishing highway work zones is available at

  • Establish vehicle routes that are appropriately marked with clear signage
  • Use one-way routes if possible
  • Separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic to the extent feasible, especially when vehicles are reversed, loaded, or unloaded
  • Designate and mark pedestrian routes
  • Allow ready access for emergency vehicles
  • Ensure that access points and any required turns are sufficiently wide to allow access for the largest fire apparatus that may be required.
  • Relocate overhead electrical lines where they would obstruct vehicle access, especially for emergency vehicles.

Plan for emergencies

  • Arrange emergency evacuation routes and rally points

Plan for crane safety

  • Establish safe work areas for mobile crane.
  • Ensure sufficient space to create an exclusion zone around the cranes swing radius.
  • Ensure that the crane can be set upon solid ground with no support less than two feet from any trench.
  • Locate the crane to minimize moving materials over high occupancy work areas.
  • Locate the crane to ensure that the minimum safe distance from overhead power lines can be maintained

Establish safe walking routes

  • Keep pedestrian routes separated from vehicle routes to the extent feasible.
  • Do not allow pedestrian passage through any exclusion zone.
  • Establish storage areas that minimize materials handling and provide for safe storage, handling and transport of materials.
  • Have materials delivered to a location convenient to where they will be used, with a safe path between the storage area and the use point
  • Minimize the need to move materials from place to place for storage as the job progresses.
  • Ensure that flammable materials are stored in compliance with 1926.151
  • Do not locate storage areas where they are likely to cause workers to be too close to  electrical hazards).

Select locations for motorized equipment that is:

  • Locate internal combustion equipment outside, away front entrances, and down wind from workers. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly but invisible and odorless gas. Even small internal combustion engines, such as those that power small electrical generators and power washers, can produce a deadly amount of CO in a short period of time. Diesel and natural gas engines produce less CO.
  • Does not block exits or emergency access routes.
  • Locate equipment and material/waste storage areas at least two feet way from any trench.
  • If cutting, grinding, welding or other high noise activities are to be done in a limited number of locations, locate them away from high occupancy work areas to reduce noise exposures but close enough to the storage and use areas to minimize carrying. Noise level are cut by about three-fourths when the distance is doubled. Barriers can also be used to reduce noise exposures.

Facilitate the prevention, suppression and evacuation of fires by:

  • Establishing flammable materials storage areas in accordance with 1926.151
  • Not storing flammables within three feet of any fire door opening
  • Locating fire extinguishers within one hundred feet of the area to be protected
  • Ensuring that access routes can be maintained for emergency vehicles
  • Keeping ignition sources like portable heaters off of wood floors and away from tarpaulins or other flammable materials.

Encourage good hygiene, cooling and hydration by:

  • Locating rest areas and toilets close to work areas but away form high noise sources
  • In hot weather locating water supplies in each work area.
  • locate washing facilities near rest areas and points convenient to where workers exit the work-site.

Encourage the use of safety equipment by locating rebar caps, eye wash stations, waste recepticles and similar items convenient to each work location. 



Risks Addressed:

Traffic safety, material handling, electrical safety, fire safety, struck by and caught in hazards that occur in construction work.

How Risks are Reduced:

Many accidents result from the unplanned interaction of people, machines, and materials. Careful location planning allows these interactions to be controlled and highlights any potential problem areas.

Published studies are theoretical and do not report actual worksite injury outcomes.

Effects on Productivity:

Productivity is particularly advanced through careful planning of material delivery and storage sites.  Locating materials too far from their use point and the unnecessary moving of materials is costly and a frequent cause of injuries. Locating storage areas in traffic routes also results in inefficiencies and accidents.

Hazards Addressed:


Sophisticated software programs are available for planning large jobs.  For the typical small job, graph paper and a ruler may be sufficient.  Site layout plans may need to be revised as the job progresses, but initial plans should anticipate predictable changes.  Also consider ANSI A 10.1 standard on planning for safety.  For more recommendations and tips, click 'Leave Mobi page to view full details' below.

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.