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Materials Handling Fact Sheet


Material handling can be a major source of occupational injuries whether the work is done manually or with mechanical assistance. Jobs that involve manual, mechanical, or repetitive handling present the highest risk of injury.

Applicable University Policy

VI-19.00(A) - UMD Policy on Personal Protective Equipment Plan
UMD EHS Management Policy

Applicable Regulation

  • 29 CFR 1910 Subpart N -Material Handling and Storage
  • 29 CFR 1910.176 Subpart N - Handling Materials - General
  • 29 CFR 1910.177 Subpart N - Servicing Multi-Piece and Single-Piece Rim Wheels
  • 29 CFR 1910.178 Subpart N - Powered Industrial Trucks
  • 29 CFR 1910.179 Subpart N - Overhead and Gantry Cranes
  • 29 CFR 1910.180 Subpart N - Crawler, Locomotive, and Truck Cranes
  • 29 CFR 1910.181 Subpart N - Derricks
  • 29 CFR 1910.184 Subpart N - Slings
  • 29 CFR 1910.132 Subpart I -Personal Protective Equipment
  • 29 CFR 1926.953 Subpart V - Material Handling
  • 29 CFR 1926.602 Subpart O - Motor Vehicles, Mechanized Equipment, Marine Operations - Material Handling equipment
  • 29 CFR 1926.602(a) Subpart O - Earthmoving
  • 29 CFR 1926.602(b) Subpart O - Excavating
  • 29 CFR 1926.602(c) Subpart O - Lifting and Hauling
  • 29 CFR 1926. 251 Subpart H - Rigging Equipment for Material Handling
  • Special regulations for ergonomic issues currently do not exist, but are covered under the OSHA General Duty Clause.
  • There are additional standards applicable to hazardous material handling and transportation. See under 29 CFR 1910.Subpart H.

Summary of Requirements

Material handling requires careful consideration of many factors including the area of ergonomics. Every job that involves manual, mechanical or repetitive handling should have a job analysis performed to determine how worker injury can be minimized.

Most back injuries that occur on the job are a result of poor lifting technique. Lifting and carrying objects should be designed out of jobs whenever possible. When lifting cannot be avoided, employees should get assistance with heavy and awkward object. The risk of injury can be reduced by staying in good physical shape, planning the lift and removing all obstacles, getting a good grip, getting load close to the body, and lifting with the legs. Avoid twisting the back and lifting a load above shoulder height. Lower the load carefully, again bending the knees and keeping the back straight.

Preventive maintenance, adjustments and repairs maintenance must be performed on all material handling equipment. It is required to conduct daily inspections of slings and powered industrial trucks. The preventive maintenance is based on the manufacturer's recommendations.


Each department is required to provide adequate training to all employees who are susceptible to material handling injuries. This would include recognition of potential hazards and how to prevent or correct them, proper lifting techniques, proper adjustment of workstations, and specialized training in how to use material handling equipment on the job. OSHA specifies that employees involved in the following materials handling operations/equipment must receive training:

  • Powered Industrial Trucks
  • Cranes
  • Powered Platforms
  • Servicing Multipiece Rim Wheels

The first line supervisors must be aware of the importance of controlling hazards associated with material handling and storing. They will be held accountable for employee training.


Initial and both "frequent" (daily to monthly intervals) and "periodic" (1 to 12 months intervals) inspections must be conducted of powered industrial trucks, overhead and gantry cranes, derricks, slings and crawler and truck cranes.


All training sessions and inspections should be appropriately documented and maintained by the individual departments. Training sessions should have a sign-in sheet. Proof of required training should be maintained in the employee's personnel file.

University Resources

Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk (301) 405-3960
ESSR Fax: (301) 314-9294
Department of Facilities Management (301) 405-3219
ESSR Website:

Written 5/98
Revised 5/05

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