Material Handling: Preventing Injury and Damage

Safe storage and handling of material in warehouses is critical to preventing worker injury and property damage

Storage and Handling

  • Inspect and maintain shelving and racking to prevent collapse. If damage occurs, immediately isolate the affected area.
  • Install rack upright guards to prevent damage from incidental forklift contact.
  • Ensure materials stored on racks, shelving, and other storage devices do not create a hazard.
  • Ensure bags, containers, bundles, etc. are stored in tiers that are stacked, blocked, interlocked and limited in height so that they are stable and secure to prevent sliding or collapse.
  • Properly stack loose/unboxed materials to prevent falling hazards.
  • Keep storage areas free from accumulation of materials that could lead to tripping, fires, explosions, or pest harborage.
  • Place heavier loads on lower or middle shelves.
  • Ensure that storage shelving and rack load capacities are not exceeded.
  • See , above, for materials handling hazards and solutions.


  • Inspect conveyors regularly.
  • Ensure that pinch points are adequately guarded.
  • Develop procedures for locking out conveyors when necessary (e.g., when materials have fallen off or become jammed), and training workers in these procedures.
  • Provide proper lighting and working surfaces in the area surrounding the conveyor.

Mechanical Handling Equipment

  • Provide periodic maintenance of pallet jacks and fork lifts so they can operate with the minimum amount of hand, arm, and finger force.
  • Ensure elevators and hoists for lifting materials are used with adequate safe clearances, no obstructions, appropriate signals, and directional warning signs.
  • Ensure sufficient safe clearances in aisles, at loading docks, through doorways, and wherever turns or passage must be made.
  • Mark boundaries of permanent aisles and passages where handling equipment is used to ensure proper clearance.
  • Keep aisles and passageways clean and unobstructed.
  • Keep floors well maintained (e.g. no ruts or bumps) to reduce force when using manual materials handling equipment and whole body vibration/shock from driven equipment.

Below are some OSHA resources that can assist in protecting workers from materials handling hazards:


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