Materials Handling and Storage

Materials Handling and Storage

Hazard Overview

Hazard Overview

What is materials handling?

Materials handling refers to the movement of materials in the workplace and may involve the use of mechanized equipment.

What are the hazards associated with materials handling and storage?

Depending upon the type of materials and the means used to move them, the hazards associated with materials handling and storage can result in serious injury or death due to employees being struck by or caught between materials or the material handling equipment, as well as musculoskeletal injuries due to repetitive movement or improper techniques used when lifting and moving materials.




What can I do to protect myself and others?

Do not walk under a suspended load. Do not store materials beyond the load capacity of the surface on which they are placed. In addition, do not store materials in an unsafe manner that creates a high center of gravity unless the load can be adequately secured and stabilized to prevent shifting and collapse. When bodily moving materials, be sure to utilize proper lifting techniques to prevent back injury.

Do not operate material handling equipment such as forklifts or cranes unless you have been trained in the use of that equipment. If you observe another employee operating material handling equipment in an unsafe manner, report it to your employer immediately.

What resources are available to assist employers?

Safety and Health Programs

An example forklift inspection program is available for employers to use in their workplace. It should be customized to fit the conditions and equipment used in the workplace.

Training and Outreach Services

Presentations on materials handling for general industry, powered industrial trucksstruck by/caught between and cranes and derricks in construction are available for workplaces to assist in training their staff. The presentations should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards.

In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. Further, this pre-recorded webinar on powered industrial trucks may also be useful for employee training.

Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

A-Z Safety and Health Topics

More information related to material handling can be found in the cranes and derricks and powered industrial trucks A-Z topics pages. 

Consultation Services

The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.



Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards for materials handling and storage in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. 

General Industry

Maritime, Shipyard Employment

Maritime, Marine Terminals


Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

Learn More

Learn More

Where can I learn more?

Industry Guides

Compliance Documents

Technical Assistance

If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to or by calling 919-707-7876.