Industrial Maintenance and Construction/Support Services Safety Manual - Materials Handling and Storage Requirements


Industrial Maintenance and Construction/Support Services Safety Manual - Materials Handling and Storage Requirements


The following requirements are designed to eliminate or reduce injuries involving the handling and storage of materials, whether performed manually or through automation.


These requirements shall apply to all UNC work areas where materials are handled or stored in the workplace. Nothing in these requirements shall relieve the University from the compliance requirements of other regulatory agencies whether federal, state, or local.


Environment, Health and Safety

EHS will conduct annual inspections of various campus areas to ensure that material handling and storage safety measures and requirements are being met.

Department Supervisor

Department supervisors are responsible for ensuring that employees have been trained on proper materials handle and storage requirements set forth by this policy. In addition, supervisors are to ensure that employees handle and store materials in a safe manner. Department supervisors are to ensure that employees comply with all federal and state OSHA regulations while handling and storing materials.


Employees who handle and/or store materials shall be properly trained on how materials are to be handled and stored in their specific work area. Employees are to comply with all federal and state OSHA regulations while handling and/or storing materials. Employees are to notify the supervisor immediately of any safety concerns or problems they encounter while handling and/or storing materials.

Materials Handling Methods

  • Inspect materials for slivers, nails or other protruding objects, jagged or sharp edges, burrs, and rough or slippery surfaces.
  • Get a firm grip on the object.
  • Keep fingers away from pinch points, especially when setting down materials.
  • When handling lumber, pipe, or other long objects, employees should keep hands away from the ends to prevent them from being pinched.
  • Wipe off greasy, wet, slippery, or dirty objects before trying to handle or store them.
  • Keep hands free of oil and grease.

Personal Protective Equipment

Handles and holders should be attached to loads to reduce the chances of getting fingers pinched or smashed.

When the loads are heavy or bulky, the mover should wear steel-toed safety shoes or boots to prevent foot injuries in the event that the worker slips or accidentally drops a load.

In most cases, gloves or other hand protectors must be worn to prevent hand injuries.

When opening a wire-bound bale or box, employees must wear eye protection as well as stout gloves and take special care to prevent the ends of the bindings from flying loose and striking their face or body. The same precaution applies to coils of wire, strapping, or cable. Use cutters that clamp ends when cut.

** See the Personal Protective Equipment section of the IMAC Manual for further information.

If materials are dusty or toxic, follow UNC-CH guidelines for hazardous substances under the Environmental Affairs section of the EHS website.

Lifting and Carrying

Before employees perform jobs requiring heavy and/or frequent lifting, make sure they are physically suited for the job.

If a load is thought to be more than one employee can handle, the employee should obtain assistance or use a lifting aid to perform the operation in a safe manner.

Proper Way to Lift

Here are six steps to safe lifting:

  1. Keep feet parted – one alongside and one behind the object
  2. Keep back straight and nearly vertical. Bend at the knees instead of the waist
  3. Tuck in your chin
  4. Grip the object with the whole hand
  5. Tuck in elbows and arms
  6. Keep body weight directly over feet

When bulky objects are to be handled or when objects are to be carried on the shoulder, employees shall be trained in these techniques for special situations.

Handling Barrels and Drums

When possible, when moving barrels and drums they should be moved by using a dolly or other mechanical devices.

If two employees are assigned to up-end a full drum, they should use the following procedures:

  1. Stand on opposite sides of the drum and face each other;
  2. Grasp both chimes (rolled edges at both ends of the barrel) near their high points, lift one end and press down on the other;
  3. As the drum is up-ended and brought to balance on the bottom chime, release the grip on the bottom chime and straighten the drum.

When two employees are to overturn a full drum, they should use the following procedure:

  1. Make sure they have enough room. Cramped quarters can result in badly injured hands.
  2. Both stand near each other, facing the drum. They grip the closest point of the top chime with both hands. Resting their palms against the side of the drum, they push until the drum balances on the lower chime.
  3. They step forward a short distance, and each employee releases one hand from the top chime in order to grip the bottom chime. They ease the drum down to a horizontal position until it rests solidly on its side.

To roll a barrel or drum, an employee should push against the sides with his/her hands. To change direction of the roll, he/she should grip the chime, not kick the drum with his/her feet.

To lower a drum or barrel down a skid, turn it and slide it end-wise. Do not roll it. To raise a drum or barrel up a skid, two employees stand on opposite sides of the skid (outside the rails, not inside, and not below the object being raised). They roll the object up the incline. Handling drums and barrels can be hazardous, even when using utmost care. Special handling equipment and tools must be made available to make the job safer and easier.

Equipment and Handling

Hand Trucks

A truck designed for a specific purpose should be used only for that purpose. A curved bed truck should be used only for handling drums or other circular materials.

Foot brakes can be installed on wheels of two-wheeled trucks so that operators need not place their feet on the wheel or axle to hold the truck.

Handles should have knuckle guards.

Four-wheeled truck operations follow rules similar to those for two-wheeled trucks. Extra emphasis must be placed on proper loading. Four-wheeled trucks must be evenly loaded to prevent tipping. They are to be pushed rather than pulled, except for a truck that has a fifth wheel and a handle for pulling. Trucks shall not be loaded so high that operators cannot see where they are going.

Powered Hand Trucks

The truck should be equipped with a dead-man control, wheel guards, and an ignition key that can be taken out when the operator leaves the truck. No employees are to use powered hand trucks unless they have been trained. Training should include the operating instructions given in the truck manufacturer’s manual. General instructions include:

  1. Do not operate the truck with wet or greasy hands.
  2. Lead the truck from right or left of the handle. Face direction of travel. Keep one hand on the handle.
  3. When entering an elevator, back the truck in to keep from getting caught between the handles and elevator walls. Operate the truck in reverse whenever it must be run close to a wall or other obstruction.
  4. Always give pedestrians the right of way.
  5. Stop at blind corners, doorways, and aisle intersections to prevent collisions.
  6. Never operate the truck faster than normal walking pace.
  7. Only handle flammable or corrosive liquids when they are in approved containers.
  8. Never allow additional employees to ride the truck unless it is specifically designed for such purposes.
  9. Do not engage in horseplay.

Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts)

All new powered industrial trucks, except vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling, shall meet the design and construction requirements for powered industrial trucks established in the American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks, Part II, ANSI B56.1-1969. Approved trucks shall also bear a label or some other identifying mark indicating acceptance by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.

Only qualified operators who have received training in safe operation and who are duly authorized are permitted to drive power trucks. According to OSHA requirements, training programs should include safe operating practices as well as actual supervised experience driving over a training course. Emphasis must be on safety awareness. Trained and authorized drivers should have badges or other visual identification or authorization to drive, and they should display these at all times. See the Powered Industrial Truck Policy within the IMAC Manual on the EHS website for more detailed training information.


Trucks must be maintained according to their manufacturer’s recommendations.

All trucks fabricated on or after February 15, 1972, must meet the design and construction requirements established in the American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks. Modifications and additions which affect capacity and safe operation shall not be performed by the owner or user without the manufacturer’s prior written approval. All nameplates and markings must be accurate, in place, and legible.

Battery-charging installations must be located in areas designated for that purpose. They must have facilities for flushing and neutralizing spilled electrolyte, for fire protection, protecting charging apparatus from damage by trucks, and for adequate ventilation for dispersal of gases or vapors from gassing batteries. Racks used for supporting batteries must be made of materials non-conductive to spark generation or be coated or covered to achieve this objective.

An overhead hoist or equivalent equipment must be used for handling batteries. Avoid overloading the equipment by letting the weight, size, and shape of the material being moved dictate the type of equipment used for transporting it. All materials handling equipment has rated capacities that determine the maximum weight the equipment can safety handle and the conditions under which it can handle those weights. The equipment rated capacities must be displayed on each piece of equipment and must ot be exceeded except for load testing. Reinstalled batteries must be properly positioned and secured in the truck.

A carboy tilter or siphon must be used for handling electrolyte. Acid must always be poured into water; water must NOT be poured into acid (it overheats and splatters).

During charging operations, vent caps must be removed to avoid electrolyte spray. Make sure that vent caps are functioning. Battery or compartment cover or covers must be open to dissipate heat.

Precautions must be taken to prevent open flames, sparks, or electric arc in battery-charging areas and tools and other metallic objects must be kept away from the tops of uncovered batteries.

Employees charging and changing batteries shall be authorized to do the work, trained in the proper handling, and required to wear protective clothing including safety glasses/goggles, face shield, long sleeves, rubber boots, apron, and gloves.

Smoking is prohibited in the charging area. “No Smoking” signs must be posted.

Internal Combustion Engines

All internal combustion engines must be turned off before refueling. Refueling should be in the open or in specifically designated areas, where ventilation is adequate to carry fuel vapors away.

Smoking must not be permitted in the service areas and signs must be posted to that effect.

Hazardous Atmospheres

When trucks are operated in enclosures, the concentration of carbon monoxide must not exceed the permissible exposure limits specified by local or state laws, and in no case should the time-weighted average concentration ever exceed 35 ppm (part per million) for an 8-hour exposure.

Some power trucks are designed for use in locations where flammable gases or vapors may be present in the air in quantities sufficient to produce explosive or ignitable mixtures or which are hazardous because of the presence of combustible dust or easily ignitable fibers. Only trucks approved and marked for such areas are to be permitted in these areas.

General Rules for Driving Power Trucks (Forklifts)

All traffic regulations must be observed, including site speed limits.

Safe distances must be maintained. Approximately three truck lengths from the truck ahead must be maintained so that an emergency stop, if necessary, can be made in the clear distance ahead. Trucks must be kept under control at all times.

Drivers are required to slow down and sound horns at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed.

Railroad tracks must be crossed diagonally whenever possible. Parking within 8 feet of the center of the railroad track bed is prohibited.

Drivers are required to look in the direction of travel and to keep a clear view of the path of travel at all times. Never back up without looking.

Grades are to be ascended or descended slowly and loaded trucks must be driven with the load upgrade on grades in excess of 10 percent. Unloaded trucks must be operated on all grades with load engaging means downgrade. On all grades, load and load-engaging means shall be tilted back if applicable and raised only as far as necessary to clear the road surface.

Under all travel conditions, a truck must be operated at a speed that will permit it to be brought to a stop in a safe manner.

Dockboards or bridgeplates are to be driven over carefully and slowly and only after they have been properly secured. Their rated weight capacity must never be exceeded. When loading or unloading highway trucks, be sure the brakes are preset and wheel chocks are placed under the rear wheels to prevent the trucks from rolling when they are boarded by power trucks.

Approach elevators slowly and stop at least 5 feet from gate. Once on the elevator, neutralize the controls, set the brakes, shut off power, and then step off the truck.

While negotiating turns, speed must be reduced to a safe level by means of turning the hand steering wheel in a smooth, sweeping motion. When maneuvering at a very low speed, the hand steering wheel must be turned at a moderate even rate.

Never run over loose objects on the roadway surface.

Only stable or safely arranged loads shall be handled and caution must be exercised when handling off-center loads which cannot be centered.

Only loads within the rated load capacity of the truck shall be handled and long or high (including multiple tiered) loads which may affect capacity must be adjusted. When picking up items with a powered industrial truck, the load must be centered on the forks and as close to the mast as possible to minimize the potential for the truck tipping or the load falling. A lift truck must never be overloaded because it would be hard to control and could easilty tip over. Extra weight must not be placed on the rear of a counterbalanced forklift to offset an overload.

Load-engaging means must be placed under the load as far as possible and the mast shall be carefully tilted backward to stabilize the load.

Extreme care must be exercised when tilting the load forward or backward, particularly when high tiering is being performed. Tilting the forklift forward with the load engaging means elevated is not permitted except to pick up a load. Elevated loads must not be tilted forward except when the load is in a deposit position over a rack or stack. When stacking or tiering, only enough backward tilt to stabilize the load shall be used. When operating in close quarters, keep hands where they cannot be pinched between steering controls and projecting stationary objects. Keep legs and feet inside the guard or the operating stations of the truck.

Do not use the reverse control on electric trucks for braking.

Park trucks only in designated areas – never in an aisle or doorway, or obstructing equipment or material. Fully lower the load engaging means, neutralize the controls, shut off the power, and set the brakes. Remove the key (or connector plug) when leaving a truck unattended. If the truck is parked on an incline, block the wheels.

Materials Storage

Warehouse Storage

When planning materials storage, make sure that materials do not obstruct fire alarm boxes, sprinkler system controls, fire extinguishers, first-aid equipment, lights, and electric switches. All exits and aisles must be kept clear at all times and shall be appropriately marked.

“No Smoking” signs must be posted where necessary throughout the warehouses.

Maximum safe load limits of floors within buildings and structures, in pounds per square foot, shall be conspicuously posted in all storage areas, except for floors or slabs on grade. Maximum safe loads shall no be exceeded.

Stored materials must not create a hazard. Storage areas must be kept free from accumulated materials that may cause tripping, fires, explosions, or that may contribute to the harboring of rats and other pests. When stacking and piling materials, it is important to be aware of such factors as the materials’ height and weight, how accessible the stored materials are to the user, and the condition of the containers where the materials are being stored.

Open Yard Storage

Plan open yard storage to have driveways between and around combustible storage piles at least 15 feet wide and maintained free from accumulation of rubbish, equipment, or other materials. Driveways should be spaced so that a maximum grip system unit of 50 feet is produced. Combustible materials must be piled with due regard to the stability of piles and in no case higher than 20 feet.


For outdoor storage of lumber, firm ground without yielding soil, must be selected. The area must be well drained to remove surface water and prevent softening of the ground. A periodic check should be made to determine if there is a shifting in the material.

For long time piling, substantial bearings or dunnage is recommended. Concrete with spread footing extending below the frost line is a good method.

For temporary piling, heavy timbers may be used to support the crosspieces. This type of support must be inspected periodically for deterioration which may cause the pile to list dangerously.

If lumber must be handled manually to or from higher pile, the pile must be not more than 16 feet high, and safe means of access to the top, such as a ladder, must be provided. 20 feet is the maximum stacking height if a forklift is used. Tie pieces are needed not only to stabilize the pile, but also too provide air circulation. Tie pieces must not extend into walkways, but are to be cut flush with the piles.

Used lumber must have all nails removed before stacking.

Bagged Material

Bagged material must be cross-tied with the mouths of the bags toward the inside of the pile. When the pile is 5 feet high, it must be stepped back one row for each additional 3 feet of height. A pile of sacks must never be undermined by the removal of sacks from lower rows.

Pipe and Bar Stock

Pipes and bar stock must be stored on specially designed sills or racks, and shall be safety blocked to prevent rolling or spreading. When moving these materials, employees should work from the end of the pile as much as possible. Employees must be instructed to never try to stop rolling or sliding pipes or bar stock with their hands or feet.

Sheet Metal

Sheet metal must be handled with leather gloves or gloves with metal inserts. All bundles must be separated by strips of wood to facilitate handling when the material is needed for production and to lessen chances of shifting or sliding of the piles of material.

Brick and Masonry Blocks

Brick stacks shall not be more than 7 feet in height. When a loose brick stack reaches a height of 4 feet, it must be tapered back 2 inches in every foot of height above the 4 foot level. When masonry blocks are stacked higher than 6 feet, the stacks should be tapered back one half block for each tier above the 6 foot level.

Brick must never be stacked for storage purposes on scaffolds or runways. This does not prohibit normal supplies on bricklayers’ scaffolds during actual brick laying operations.

Masonry blocks should be limited to a stacked pile height of 6 feet. If blocks are stacked higher than 6 feet, the stack shall be tapered back one-half block per tier above the 6-foot level.

Drums and Barrels

Drums and barrels must be stacked symmetrically. If stored on their sides, the bottom tiers must be blocked to keep them from rolling. When stacked on end, put planks, sheets of plywood dunnage, or pallets between each tier to make a firm, flat stacking surface. When stacking materials two or more tiers high, the bottom tier must be chocked on each side to prevent shifting in either direction.

Railroad Cars

Spotting of railroad cars is usually done by switch engine crews. If it is necessary for the employee to move a railroad car, the supervisor should consider the following factors:

  1. The facilities or equipment available to move the car
  2. The distance the car must be moved
  3. The number of cars to be moved
  4. Whether the track is level or on a grade

If a car must be spotted or moved without power equipment, a car mover (which should be operated by only one person) can be used. If it takes two employees to move a car, then each employee should have a car mover and they must work on opposite wheels. All hand-actuated car movers should be equipped with knuckle guards.

A stationary car puller, if available, should be used. When a car is being spotted or a full car is being moved to make room for an empty one, these rules should be followed:

  1. Check to make certain no one is working in the car or in adjacent cars to the one being moved.
  2. Remove all bridge plates.
  3. Move only one car at a time with hand equipment. If winches are used, do not overload them. The winch hook must be placed in the eye provided or the frame beneath the car. Do not hook to steps, ladders, or grab irons.
  4. Never move cars down an incline or sloping track without power equipment.
  5. Never use a truck or other road vehicle to push or pull a car.
  6. Never leave a car mover in place under wheels. A car mover under pressure will fly out when a train crew moves the car.
  7. When opening the doors of boxcars, all employees must avoid having fingers caught. A bar or ratchet hoist or puller must be used to open car doors as damaged doors may fall from runners.
  8. Metal bands shall be removed or cut to avoid dangling ends. The car doors must be closed and latched before the car is being moved.

Contact Information

Primary Contact

Environment, Health and Safety
1120 Estes Drive
Campus Box #1650
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1650
Phone: 919-962-5507


Article ID: 132000
Thu 4/8/21 9:21 PM
Mon 7/4/22 12:38 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
01/30/2019 8:13 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Executive Director
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
01/30/2019 8:13 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
01/30/2019 8:13 AM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
03/01/2027 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
05/01/2014 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Environment, Health and Safety