Loading and Unloading

Workers loading and unloading materials should be instructed in safe procedures appropriate to the material they handle. Truck or rail tank car loading or the unloading of flammable/combustible liquids is one of the most hazardous operations likely to be undertaken at any manufacturing or storage facility. Workers engaged in the loading or unloading of suspension-type highway trailers may be at an increased risk of injury due to the inability of damaged trailers to support the weight of the powered industrial truck used to load or unload the trailer. Throughout the trucking industry, Powered Industrial Trucks, 29 CFR 1910.178, is the most commonly cited standard. Many fatalities occur when a worker is crushed by a forklift that has overturned or fallen from a loading dock.

The following is an overview of the regulations, training requirements and other resources:

Loading and Unloading Overview

OSHA has authority over off-highway loading and unloading, such as warehouses, plants, grain handling facilities, retail locations, marine terminals, wharves, piers, and shipyards. OSHA also has authority in airport terminals unless the FAA has negotiated an airport manual and safety plan with a carrier which has a provision that preempts OSHA's authority by Section 4(b)1 for that provision. In all locations, OSHA has authority over forklift operators and terminal employees who perform loading and unloading operations.


  • 1910.178, Powered industrial trucks
  • 1910.305, Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use
  • 1910.157, Portable fire extinguishers
  • 1910.132, General requirements (Personal protective equipment)
  • 1910.23, Guarding floor and wall openings and holes
  • 1910.303, General (Electrical)
  • 1910.147, The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)
  • 1910.215, Abrasive wheel machinery

Training Requirements

  • 29 CFR 1910.178, Powered industrial trucks. OSHA Standard. Includes specific training requirements for forklift operators who load and unload trucks.
  • Host employers may require site-specific forklift training of visiting workers. OSHA Letter of Interpretation, (October 28, 1999). Determines that under the OSH Act and the OSHA powered industrial truck regulation, the host employer is responsible for ensuring that persons who operate forklifts at its worksite have been trained properly. The training and evaluation which the regulation requires are truck-specific and site-specific. The host employer may require outside drivers who come into its workplace to have undergone its training course.

General Hazard References

Industry Specific Hazards

  • Baggage Handling. OSHA eTool. Describes many of the common hazards associated with the baggage handling process. Provides possible solutions that are ranked according to their feasibility to the operations.
  • Safety. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Develops and implements improved tools and processes to facilitate more effective use of safety data, both inside and outside the agency, to help improve aviation safety.
Beverage Delivery
Grocery Warehousing
  • Grocery Warehousing. OSHA eTool. Describes example ergonomic hazards and solutions related to Order Picking, one of the three main grocery warehouse operations. It has sections on transport, storage, packaging and work practice.
  • Maritime Industry. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
  • Shipyard Employment. OSHA eTool. Describes common hazards and possible solutions for tasks performed during the maritime industry's ship repair, shipbuilding, shipbreaking, and barge cleaning processes.
  • Shipyard Industry Standards. OSHA Publication 2268, (2021).
  • Longshoring Industry. OSHA Publication 2232, (Revised 2001). Includes standards related to the Longshoring Industry.
  • Longshoring and Marine Terminals: Fatal Facts. OSHA. Detailed summaries, based on actual case files, address 42 fatal accidents in the marine cargo handling industry, including a review of the factors that contributed to the accident and how to avoid them.
Meat Packing
  • Poultry Processing Industry. OSHA eTool. Focuses on identifying and controlling major hazards that contribute to the high rates of injuries within the poultry processing industry.
Oil & Well Gas Drilling and Servicing